Piece by Jim Green
Increasingly, there are rumours abound that despite relatively recently signing a $140m six year contract with the Colts, Andrew Luck isn’t happy there. This poses a few questions:
- Why isn’t he happy, on said $140m?
- Would the Colts consider trading him?
- Who would want him (who wouldn’t?)?
Why isn’t he happy?
I presume this has nothing to do with money!
Despite realigning the front office after last season, the Colts have been somewhat of a mess since Luck entered the league in 2012. Drafting quality players was seemingly a problem for former GM Ryan Grigson. Drafting Luck was a hard pick to get wrong seeing as he was considered a generational talent, but after things weren’t so great. True, in the same year the Colts picked TY Hilton and Dwayne Allen but aside from that it’s been slim pickings with only Donte Moncrief considered anywhere near a success since the 2012 draft. OK, if drafting isn’t your thing you could always build a team through trades or free agency. But here we hit another stumbling block. The biggest deal they made was to trade a first round pick for Cleveland ‘superstar’ Trent Richardson who can no longer find any team willing to give him a roster slot. Coupled with this there’s been the abject failure to build a decent offensive line to protect Luck. Luck has been unfortunate with a number of injuries and I would suggest a large portion of that has been how easy it is to get to him and knock him down.
Would the Colts consider trading him?
Even very recently this would be an unthinkable decision. As above, Luck is considered a generational talent and without doubt, a franchise quarterback – something many teams find hard to discover! So why get rid of him? Well the Colts are in a rebuilding phase themselves. The rebuild isn’t the same extent as what’s happened in San Francisco or Cleveland or what will happen in New York (possibly both New York teams) and Buffalo but there is a need to re-tool. Luck is good collateral to get some decent draft picks. I would say he’ll warrant at least a first round pick plus some extra stuff – be that more draft picks or alternative players. If the right deal comes along then the Colts will likely give it some consideration. Coupled with that, the Colts have bought in Jacoby Brissett as a long term backup quarterback who in his first game with the Colts and his cameo last season in New England has shown some decent potential. Depending on how he performs over the next couple of weeks until Luck is fit the Colts may well consider him a long term option who’s on a cheap contract. Also, consider how badly it went for RG3 and the Redskins once the injuries started to accumulate, can the Colts risk their future on a guy with a growing list of issues?
Who would want him?
As I’ve said here and as many people have said before me – finding a franchise quarterback is no easy task so maybe it is easier to rule some teams out such as the Bucaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Bears, Titans, Raiders, Chiefs, Eagles, Cowboys, Lions, Texans, Packers, Seahawks and Rams. All of these teams have recently picked up what they would consider potential franchise quarterbacks or have established quarterbacks in place and are locked in for a good few years yet. The first distinct group are those that have a good (and in some cases, very good) quarterback in place at the moment who might be considered to be getting on a bit and maybe would consider swapping the old timer out for a newer model. These teams include the Patriots, Steelers, Chargers, Giants, Cardinals and Saints. The thought of Brady actually retiring might be sacrilegious but it’s not out of the question. Big Ben has hinted at retirement and bringing in Luck to throw to Antonio Brown is a scary thought! Both Rivers and Manning have started the season poorly and considered on their last legs. Palmer can still sling it but he’s no spring chicken. And, like Brady, Brees is still a class act but is getting on in age and is on a year to year contract.
The next group has a quarterback in place who isn’t exactly convincing and it wouldn’t be a shock to see them move on. This group includes the Bengals, Dolphins, Ravens, Jaguars, Broncos and Vikings. Andy Dalton has had a horrible start to the season and like his coach, has not yet won a playoff game despite being on one of the most talented squads in the league. Tannehill, whilst injured, has never really convinced anyone that he’s got genuine class. Flacco has failed to live up to his billing in all but one season – it just happened that in that one season he played well and had a quality defence that won the Ravens a Superbowl. Whilst Bortles enjoyed a career game against the Ravens in Week 3 his troubles are well documented. Elway is no stranger to bringing in former Colts quarterbacks and whilst he’s had a good start to the season, do we really believe in Trevor Siemian? The Vikings decision is based on the recovery of both Teddy Bridgewater AND Sam Bradford – if one of these makes a recovery I’ll rule them out of the race.
The final group are the teams that flat out need a quarterback. This includes the Bills, Jets, Browns, Redskins and 49ers. The extent of how interested these teams are is very much dependant on how they perform throughout the year and where they pick in the draft next year. Based on the class of quarterbacks who potential could enter the draft next year, these teams may decide to pick up someone new rather than spend draft capital and invest cap space in taking Luck. The Jets need a QB. End of story – no ifs and no buts. McCown is filling a gap as Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenburg are just not good enough. The Bills still seem unconvinced by Tyrod Taylor (unfairly I think) so will likely be in the race to get someone new in. The Browns seem to like what they see in DeShone Kizer and a lot depends on how he performs for the rest of the year. If the Redskins continue to mess Cousins around instead of nailing him down to a long term contract then they’ll need a new signal caller (incidentally, Cousins being on the open market will likely be in direct competition with Luck for a team should the Colts decide to deal). Like the Jets, the 49ers have a gap filler for a QB in Hoyer this season. The thought of Kyle Shanahan having a signal caller like Luck at the helm leaves this 49er fan very happy (which is just the reason it likely won’t happen!).
There’s a lot of ifs and buts here and I think the ball is very much in the Colts court and will likely stay there for a good while yet. What happens next is very much dependant on how the rest of their season goes. If Luck comes back and leads them to the playoffs and then some then he stays. If anything else happens then I think there really is a good chance he could be packing his bags.