Five quarterback options for the Indianapolis Colts after Philip Rivers’ retirement

Philip Rivers Colts
Philip Rivers has announced his retirement, leaving the Colts with a vacancy at quarterback. Photo from CBS Sports.

Off the back of a Wildcard exit to the Buffalo Bills, one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL appear to be in a dilemma for their future franchise signal caller.

Philip Rivers has decided to end his 17-year career after a single year with the Colts. Subsequently, the Colts require a replacement.

This article will explore the potential leaders for a team that do not seem that far off; with a fantastic coaching staff, supporting players and winnable division. It feels to me that a correct decision could see the Colts become a team that deserves added attention for possible honours.

Resign Jacoby

Jacoby Brissett may have felt unlucky to lose his starting QB role in 2020. As the starting Quarterback in 2019, he performed to an average level and was unlucky with injuries.

Alas, the Colts decided to dip into the free agency pool and signed Chargers veteran Phil Rivers.

Last year, he served as Rivers back up, often coming in for short yardage dives for TD’s or on occasion throwing the deep ball Rivers didn’t have the arm for. It is fair to say that Frank Reich and the Colts front office did not consider Jacoby to challenge Rivers starting spot, which was pretty justified by Rivers leading the Colts to a playoff spot.

However, after two years studying under the tutelage of Reich, it could be argued that letting Brissett walk in free agency would be short-sighted.


His understanding of the playbook could give a consistency in transition to the next steps of Reich’s reign and has shown enough for the Colts to be competitive under him. This move perhaps could be unambitious for a Colts side who believe that everything around the QB position is in place, and Brissett may only be considered as a back-up prospect. The Colts determination to win now with their roster may force the front office to look outside their current building for alternative options.

Roll with a rookie

The Colts are currently scheduled to pick at 21 in the 2021 draft. Considering the teams picking above them, it would be extremely unlikely that a prospect such as Justin Fields or Zach Wilson will be there, let alone the future Jacksonville QB Trevor Lawrence.

Therefore, the QBs in the discussion are more likely to be Alabama’s Mac Jones or Florida’s Kyle Trask. However, an intriguing prospect may be the North Dakota State Bison Trey Lance. In 2020, revered draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah stated that Lance had the potential to be a much better prospect than his predecessor at NDS Carson Wentz.

Jeremiah seemed extremely excited about Lance and felt comfortable to compare him to former Colt Andrew Luck, critically analysing his strengths to be extremely important to succeed in the NFL.

Lance will not have the scouting combine to enhance or regress his drafting position, therefore he will be more likely judged on film. One thing that may go against the future rookie is his lack of experience. He played just the one game in 2020, due to the COVID-19 ravaged season in division 2. Critics may point to his level of competition, which originally was a sticking point of Wentz draft selection in 2016.

Nevertheless, his physical traits that Jeremiah has raved about will encourage teams to learn more about him. I expect Lance to gain attention throughout the draft process, with mock drafts already seeing him in the top 10, mocked to teams such as the 49ers and Panthers. A trade up scenario similar to the KC Chiefs 2018 venture for Patrick Mahomes might even be required, with the Colts possibly having to get ahead of Carolina at pick 8. While this may be an intimidating process for the Colts, including most likely giving up a 2022 first round pick, if they truly believe in Lance’s potential then they should go for it.

Make a splash with a huge trade

Another option for the Colts would be identifying if they could trade for an established Quarterback from another NFL squad.

While Deshaun Watson would be unthinkable due to the Texans reluctance to trade their franchise player in division, two names that have been linked in the past with Indy perhaps could be enquired for.

Deal with Philly

Carson Wentz is coming off a horror show of a 2020 season, looking dreadful in the green of Philly. Frank Reich was the Eagles OC before taking on the Colts head coaching position and was integral to Wentz’s progression in the Eagles Super Bowl winning year.

Although, Wentz was on the side-line injured before we had ever heard of the ‘Philly Special’, he was producing MVP like performances throughout that year, and has arguably not looked that way since. A trade to the Colts would get Wentz out of the conference, mark the dawning of a new regime in Philly under Jalen Hurts and potentially give life to Wentz’s flagging career.

A huge drawback to this would be the cap hit that Wentz has on the Eagles. The Eagles are on the hook for $38.7 million dollars dead cap hit if they trade Wentz, significantly larger than any traded player in NFL history. Furthermore, the removal of Doug Pederson as Eagles head coach seems to be in part to a belief that Wentz could recover under new leadership, meaning a trade to Indy would be unlikely.

Move for Stafford

Another player that has been rumoured to be on the trade market is Detroit Lions leader Matthew Stafford.

Stafford has been unlucky to never achieve a play off win in Detroit, and is revered by fellow pros as a tremendous, underrated talent.

Aaron Rodgers recently said on the Pat McAfee show that he does not get anywhere near the credit he deserves, and a move to Indy could spark a light under a signal caller who could be in for a career change. While Detroit could be reluctant to trade their heart and soul of the franchise, they seem to be heading into a rebuild mode under new head coach Dan Campbell.

The Lions draft at 7, and if Indy were to give up their 21st pick in the draft for Stafford, you could see the Lions manoeuvre both picks to potentially the Jets #2, possibly to take Ohio State standout Justin Fields. Stafford would substantially boost Indy’s chances at winning the AFC South and being a strong contender in a crowded AFC. This would be a real stick or twist moment for Detroit, trading your franchise player is rarely done and the idea of watching number 9 in a different shade of blue may be hard to take.

Explore free agency

After the removal of Dak Prescott, who is highly unlikely to leave the Dallas Cowboys without at least being franchise tagged, there is not an opportunity to attract a top signal caller like last year.

Names like Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Mitchell Trubisky could possibly be looked at for prove it deals. However, these options are unlikely to satisfy Colts fans or cause excitement, with the first two being underwhelming at New England and Dallas this season, and Trubisky failing to set the world alight in Chicago.

Other names such as Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick will probably hit free agency but are doubtful to gain much attention in Indy. Seemingly it is not the best year to find a free agent QB and the previously mentioned options should be prioritised.

The ultimate return

The dream… Andrew Luck appears from the darkness and reverses his 2019 decision to walk away from the game.

Indy do retain his rights if he decided to make a return to the field. Alas, this seems unlikely, Colts owner Jim Irsey said ‘that door seems closed’ in a 2020 interview with NFL media. The retirement of his left tackle bodyguard Anthony Castonzo may even further weaken Luck’s determination to ever think about returning. Luck seems content in retirement and is said to avoid media hype in his potential return. However, Colts fans could dream, can’t they?

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