The Indianapolis Colts have been more fortunate than most teams in the NFL when it comes to finding stellar talent at quarterback. For the better part of more than 20 years, Colts fans knew going into a game who their quarterback would be in either Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck. The shocking retirement from Luck at only 29 years old, two weeks before the 2019 regular season, disrupted what many thought would be another decade of steady playoff contention in Indianapolis. Knowing Luck is more than likely done playing football, the Colts need to start figuring out what their best option is for the foreseeable future at quarterback.
If the goal for the Colts is to win right now, then Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers are likely gone after this season. Neither Brissett or Rivers is dynamic enough to win when trailing, which puts unnecessary pressure on a talented but overloaded Indianapolis defense.
Colts fans have grown to appreciate Jacoby Brissett, a quarterback who was familiar with the scenario of filling in for an injured Andrew Luck. Luck's chronically injured right throwing shoulder caused him to miss the entire 2017 season. After a dismal initial performance from Scott Tolzien, including two interceptions returned for a touchdown, Brissett saw his first action with Indianapolis only eight days after being traded to the team. Brissett was an admirable replacement for Luck in 2017, being battered and bruised behind a porous offensive line that allowed a NFL worst 56 sacks.
After rebuilding the offensive line to assist a finally recuperated Luck, the Colts looked like a team with Super Bowl ambitions. But unrelenting rehabilitation from nagging injuries and mental health concerns forced Luck to walk away from the game in the midst of his athletic prime. For the second time in three years, the Colts called on Brissett to provide stability.
After losing a closely contested 2019 regular season opener to Philip Rivers and the Chargers 30-24, Brissett managed to win five of the next six games. Brissett then suffered a leg injury in Week 8 against Pittsburgh, stalling his momentum. Brissett remains a locker room favorite for this team and provides the kind of leadership any team could use. But the Colts owe Brissett the chance to earn a larger role on another team if that remains one of his goals. Few players could be called on with short notice twice like Brissett and do nearly as well.
Philip Rivers at 39 years old could retire before next season. It also seems very unlikely the Colts will pay another $25 million to someone like Rivers at this stage, especially without a Super Bowl appearance to his credit yet. There are simply too many younger, talented, and cheaper options besides Rivers beyond this season.
Even if the Colts decide to develop a draft choice at quarterback for next year, that cheaper contract would leave more money to add complimentary pieces elsewhere. But the best option for the Colts with their ambitions to win now is to trade for benched Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
The Colts by trading for Wentz would take on a four year, $128 million deal. The $32 million per season price tag is hefty considering Wentz is in the worst slump of his career and like Andrew Luck has had his own fair share of injuries. But if the Colts are willing to pay $25 million to an immobile game manager like Philip Rivers, paying a little more for an Andrew Luck prototype in Wentz may be a worthy investment.
The NFL is also a league that tends to look at player production in more of a "what have you done for me lately" sense. Just three years ago, Wentz was considered an MVP candidate, leading Philadelphia to an 11-2 record before a season-ending ACL injury. Nick Foles would lead the Eagles to Super Bowl LII under the direction of then offensive coordinator Frank Reich. The shelf-life of a football player is quick especially with the wear and tear of Wentz's playing style. Colts fans are well aware of this reality with the injury troubles for both Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck at the end of their respective careers in Indianapolis. But with Wentz at only 28 years old and already familiar with Reich's offense, the Colts have a chance to see what the Andrew Luck era would have been like with Wentz leading the way in Indianapolis.
Knowing the Colts will need to sign Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard to newer, more expensive deals soon may make this situation more difficult to financially pull off. But what better reason than to capitalize right now by adding Wentz, while the Colts still can afford their best players on cheaper rookie deals. People are quick to forget too that the Colts let Andrew Luck keep $25 million as he walked out the door. If they can be that generous toward someone who won't play football, they can afford to make this trade for a similar talent who is willing to play. Fans are eager to see another championship banner in Indianapolis and Carson Wentz gives the Colts the best chance to achieve it right now.
Jimmy Kennedy, who believes Carson Wentz gives the Colts the best chance to win now, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org