Philip Rivers’ retirement forces Colts to hang ‘Help Wanted’ sign for new QB — so who is it?

Philip Rivers’ retirement forces Colts to hang ‘Help Wanted’ sign for new QB — so who is it?

Illustration for article titled Philip Rivers’ retirement forces Colts to hang ‘Help Wanted’ sign for new QB — so who is it?
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Philip Rivers has officially announced his retirement, capping a long career and leaving a 2020 playoff team now without a starting quarterback. The Indianapolis Colts have a very strong roster and should be considered a contender entering next year, but it will largely hinge on who will be under center.

So, what’s this team going to do? There’s three different philosophies they can embrace – they could look for a win-now veteran, a project, or look to the draft to fill that spot. Let’s look at a few names in each category.

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Win-Now Veterans - Matthew Stafford

Win-Now Veterans - Matthew Stafford

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The Detroit Lions are in need of a rebuild and have made a move at head coach as well. Moving on from the longtime signal caller could be what’s needed. Stafford is a long-underrated quarterback with a monster arm, and would fit in very well with the stout offensive line and run game that the Colts have in place. At 32 years old, he still has plenty of years left to help a team in a championship window.

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Win-Now Veterans - Deshaun Watson

Win-Now Veterans - Deshaun Watson

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Will this happen? Absolutely not. Is it fun to discuss anyways? Very much so. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Texans and the Colts are in the same division, this would be realistic, but there’s no way the Texans hand a franchise quarterback over to a division rival that they would have to see twice a year. Now, the only reason I even bothered to list Watson here is because he has a no-trade clause in his contract, giving him a ton of power in the current clusterfuck taking place in Houston. Maybe he tells them “trade me to the Colts, or I sit.” Who knows?

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Win-Now Veterans - Andrew Luck

Win-Now Veterans - Andrew Luck

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Maybe, just maybe, head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard could place a phone call to the retired Andrew Luck, who is still only 31 years old having retired early. Maybe a little time away from the game to heal up, paired with a vastly improved roster from when he was on the team, would be enough for him to come back and give it another try. A quarterback’s best friend is a run game and a good defense, and the Colts have both.

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Projects - Carson Wentz

Projects - Carson Wentz

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Okay, now out of dreamland and down to a little more realistic option. Reich was the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia during Carson Wentz’s breakout rookie season, so the familiarity would help. Philly is likely looking to move on from Wentz after handing the job over to rookie Jalen Hurts, and would benefit from getting out from under his massive contract. The Colts are projected to have the third-most cap space in the NFL next year, and if they believe they can help Wentz return to what he showed in his rookie season, it would be a contract worth taking on.

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Projects - Sam Darnold

Projects - Sam Darnold

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Darnold desperately needs a fresh start, and the Jets need to start over. The way to rebuild a team is around a rookie contract, and being able to draft second in this coming draft will give them an opportunity to select another signal caller for cheap. Darnold is only under contract for one more year, so trading him now to get something in return instead of allowing him to walk in free agency a year from now would be a logical step for them to take. Darnold was a highly-touted prospect that has been damaged by a futile Jets organization. Allowing him to start over in a good environment like the Colts organization and with a former QB as his coach in Reich may unlock a new level for him.

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Projects - Jacob Eason

Projects - Jacob Eason

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Let’s not forget that the Colts have a now second-year quarterback of their own on roster in Jacob Eason. The University of Washington product is 6-foot-6 and has a big arm, but he’s raw. Sitting for a year might have given him the opportunity to learn and demonstrate enough to the organization for them to roll with their fourth-round draft selection.

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Rookies - Mac Jones

Rookies - Mac Jones

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The Colts will be selecting 21st overall. Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson will all likely be off the board by the time they’re on the clock. There could be two more prospects worth considering in Mac Jones and Trey Lance. Jones, who led Alabama to a national championship and was a Heisman finalist, is 6-foot-3 and took a huge step into the spotlight after the departure of Tua Tagovailoa. Jones threw for 4,500 yards (what a clean, round number) with 41 touchdowns and only 4 picks, capped off with a 464-yard, 5-TD National Championship performance. That’s remarkable. He’s an intriguing prospect that the Colts could turn to.

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Rookies - Trey Lance

Rookies - Trey Lance

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If the Colts are looking for a big, mobile quarterback with athleticism, Lance is the guy. It’s entirely possible he won’t last until the 21st overall pick, but he just might. He opted out of the 2020 season, but look back at what the 6-foot-4, 226-pound QB did in 2019 – 2,786 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, with an additional 1,100 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. That’s absurd. Lance would bring an electricity and mobility to the Colts offense that they have not had under center, ever.

It will be a fascinating offseason for the Colts to see what they do at the quarterback position. Whatever decision they make, it will be heavily scrutinized in a division that is up for grabs.

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