In a surprising development, Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard would not commit to quarterback Carson Wentz when meeting with the media in his season-ending press conference Thursday.
“When we made the decision to make a move on Carson, at the time of the decision, we felt good about it,” Ballard told reporters. “And I still don’t regret the decision at the time. I won’t make a comment on who’s going to be here next year and who’s not going to be here next year.”
That’s obviously not an endorsement of Wentz less than a calendar year after the Colts exhausted a first-round pick and change to bring in the former Pro Bowl signal caller.
On the field, Wentz played pretty well for the most part in his first season with Indianapolis. However, he struggled down the stretch. That included a disastrous performance in a season-ending Week 18 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With Indianapolis coming off a disappointing 9-8 season, we look at four quarterback options for the team moving forward.
Indianapolis Colts stick with Carson Wentz
Financially and from a team-building philosophy, this continues to make the most sense. Wentz is slated to count $28.29 million against the cap in 2022 — $15 million of which Indy would be on the hook for if it traded or released him. Add in the draft capital Ballard and Co. exhausted for Wentz, and it would be a bad look to move off him after one season.
As noted above, the former No. 2 pick played pretty well throughout the majority of the 2021 season. However, the splits are rather interesting.
- Carson Wentz stats (first 11 starts): 63% completion, 2,484 yards, 18 TD, 3 INT, 97.2 rating
- Carson Wentz stats (final 6 starts): 61% completion, 1,079 yards, 9 TD, 4 INT, 89.0 rating
That type of regression when your team is battling for a playoff spot can’t be seen as a good thing. Even then, those first 11 starts are at least somewhat promising. As for the finances, Wentz is slated to be the 10th highest-paid quarterback in the NFL next season in terms of cap hit. That has to play a role here.
Indianapolis Colts bring in Teddy Bridgewater for competition
It was noted back in December that Bridgewater is looking for $25 million annually once free agency starts. He’s not going to get that from his current Denver Broncos squad. Heck, it would be an absolute shock if the former Pro Bowler received anywhere near that from another team given what promises to be a robust trade market at quarterback. It’s also an open question whether Teddy would even be an upgrade over Wentz.
- Carson Wentz stats: 62.4% completion, 3,563 yards, 28 total TD, 7 INT, 94.6 rating
- Teddy Bridgewater stats: 66.9% completion, 3,052 yards, 20 total TD, 7 INT, 94.9 rating
Those are similar numbers. They also lead us to believe that Indianapolis could swoop in and land Bridgewater on a team-friendly deal too compete with Wentz. Paying the quarterback roughly $15 million on a one-year deal would make for an expensive quarterback room. However, it’s the likeliest scenario here.
Indianapolis Colts trade for Jimmy Garoppolo
Set to lead his 49ers into the playoffs for the second time in his four full seasons with the team, Jimmy Garoppolo already acknowledges that his future is up in the air.
“It’s always in the back of your mind,” Garoppolo told reporters this week. “It has been in mine, really, the whole season. I knew what type of season it was, knew everything that was going on behind the scenes and what-not. It was a little different.”
San Francisco yielded two future first-round picks and change to move up for Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft. It could very well opt to start the talented signal caller next season depending on what we see in the playoffs.
The question here becomes whether Indanapolis believes Garoppolo is an upgrade over Wentz. Statistically, that might not be the case. From a success standpoint, it certainly is. Remember, Garoppolo is an absurd 31-14 as the 49ers’ starter. Any move of this ilk would likely require a third-round pick heading back to San Francisco. It would also force Indianapolis into sending other draft capital in order for another team to take on Wentz’s contract. It could also opt to release the quarterback outright.
Indianapolis Colts pull off blockbuster trade for Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider met with owner Jody Allen on Thursday. Unlike other season-ending meetings, it’s not a foregone conclusion that the two will be back in the Pacific Northwest next season. In short, Seattle might have to choose between Carroll and Super Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson. There’s clear indications that a split could be in the cards.
If so, the Colts need to jump at this possibility. Even if it means sending multiple future first-round picks and young players to Seattle, adding Wilson to the mix would change the fortune of the franchise. In reality, Chris Ballard and Co. are in quarterback purgatory. They have been since Andrew Luck’s shocking retirement ahead of the 2019 season.
Moving off Wentz as well as a couple youngsters in right tackle Braden Smith and edge rusher Kwity Paye could get the ball moving in this regard. From there, the Colts offer up their first-round picks in 2023 and 2024 as well as other Day 2 picks to make it work.