Once again, the Indianapolis Colts need a quarterback. After a solid season, veteran quarterback Philip Rivers decided to call it a career, meaning that the Colts will have their fifth different starting Week 1 quarterback in as many seasons. The good news here is that, unlike in previous years, the Colts should have an entire offseason to find their next quarterback and should have a few good options on the table.
With Philip Rivers retiring, the Colts could have their 5th different season-opening starting QB in 5 years (Tolzien, Luck, Brissett, Rivers).
Only Washington (if not Alex Smith) and Denver (if not Drew Lock) could have the same amount of Week 1 QB turnover in that same time.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 20, 2021
Before we start, let’s note that these ranks are based on both the talent of the quarterback and the price it would take to get them. Also, we’re trying to keep this realistic, so players like Deshaun Watson, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson will not be on this list, as the Colts do not possess the draft capital to acquire any of the young passers.
Ranking the Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Options
1. Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford is one of the NFL’s better quarterbacks that is being absolutely wasted by a terrible organization. After bringing an end to the failed Matt Patricia experiment, Detroit is once again entering a rebuild. At age 33, Stafford should have a few good years left in him and would be a perfect fit for a team that is just a quarterback away from being a serious contender. The Lions do not fit that description, so they’d probably be willing to trade an aging Stafford in exchange for a first-round pick and change.
2. Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan might not be the player he once was, but the 35-year old quarterback is still an above-average passer that can bring a good team into playoff contention. The Falcons are in a similar position to the Lions, as they’re entering a rebuild and probably won’t be ready to compete for at least another season or two. The Falcons could use the fourth-overall pick on Fields or Wilson, which would make Ryan expendable. Even if it means giving up a first-round pick, Ryan should be able to have the Colts competing for the AFC South title immediately.
3. Cam Newton
Statistically, Cam Newton had a terrible season last year. However, a deeper dive in his film shows that he is not the main reason for New England’s terrible offense. The Patriots had the worst supporting cast in the league, and Newton simply wasn’t good enough to overcome this underwhelming collection of talent.
The same thing happened with Tom Brady in 2019, as some believed him to be washed up due to some relatively disappointing numbers. However, now that he has a better supporting cast, he’s in the NFC Championship Game and playing like a top-five quarterback. Nobody is saying that Newton is as good as Tom Brady, but he still has the talent to be a top-20 quarterback in the right system.
4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t as good as any of the aforementioned quarterbacks, but he’s significantly cheaper. The career journeyman is set to hit free agency and almost certainly will not re-sign with the Miami Dolphins. Fitzpatrick has a reputation as a very hot and cold quarterback, but the former seventh-round pick was remarkably consistent over the past two seasons. If that version of Ryan Fitzpatrick comes to the Colts, then he should be good enough to help an otherwise-strong roster make a deep playoff push.
4A. Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston is essentially just a younger Ryan Fitzpatrick. Every outcome imaginable is on the table every time he drops back to throw, and the good usually outweighs the bad. However, there is some concern that he couldn’t beat out Taysom Hill when given the opportunity this year. The Indianapolis Colts could certainly do worse at quarterback, but they should hope for better.
5. NFL Draft/Jacob Eason
The Indianapolis Colts currently have the 21st overall pick, which means they don’t stand a chance at acquiring the elite quarterback prospects of this class. However, they do stand a decent shot at grabbing one of Kyle Trask, Trey Lance, or Mac Jones. While all of these quarterbacks have some clear flaws to their game, all of them have something that gives them a shot of working out in the NFL.
Alternatively, the Colts should roll with second-year quarterback Jacob Eason. Eason had first-round talent, but a mix of attitude and work ethic concerns caused him to fall into the fourth round. The Colts had an entire season to watch Eason in practice, so they should know if he has what it takes to be the next guy under center.
6. Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz was an absolute disaster last year, but that was something of an outlier. Historically speaking, Wentz has always been a good-but-not-great quarterback and could be due for some positive regression in the right system.
Wentz’ best season came with Frank Reich running the offense, so a reunion could bring out the best in the former first-round pick. While he probably won’t ever come close to matching his 2017 play, he could be a serviceable starter. However, the Eagles will probably want a king’s ransom for his services, and the Colts shouldn’t break the bank for someone that looked that bad in 2020.
7. Sam Darnold
Sam Darnold has not played well since entering the league. However, he’s also had to deal with the worst situation in the league over the past three seasons. While it’s impossible to fully separate the quarterback from his coaching/supporting cast, Darnold consistently makes poor decisions that suggest he is not a NFL-caliber starter. However, he also has a handful of fantastic plays that make you believe he has what it takes to succeed. There is a chance that a change of scenery could bring out the best in Darnold, but the Colts shouldn’t bank on that unlikely possibility.
Sam Darnold has 10 throws a season that make you a believer of his full potential in a sea of god awful decisions.
— Johnny Kinsley (Obviously Loyal Bills Fan) (@Brickwallblitz) January 20, 2021
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