Let’s be clear. The Colts quarterback options aren’t good — but are they better than you think?
maybe (OK, they aren’t, but we’re trying.)
The Colts are one of eight or nine teams looking for a quarterback but three — Houston, Detroit, Seattle — are almost certainly going to address their need through the draft. The Colts’ real competition is with Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Carolina and maybe the New York Giants.
Four free agent quarterbacks are being discussed as starters: Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Mitch Trubisky and Marcus Mariota. None of them is a sure bet. Denver got a good look at Bridgewater and was fine cutting him loose even before it traded for Russell Wilson. Chicago let Trubisky go prior to last season without a clear answer on a replacement. Mariota lost his jop in 2019 and has thrown 31 passes since. Winston was good last year — when he played.
Deshaun Watson is likely to be playing somewhere this season. He seems a longshot for the Colts at best — the Texans are unlikely to trade him within the division and he seems like a poor fit for the character-conscious Colts — but has been mentioned as a possibility in Carolina, Miami and Philadelphia, among other destinations. If Watson ends up in Miami or Philadelphia, it frees up another veteran quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa or Gardner Minshew as a trade target.
More:With Carson Wentz gone, Jimmy Garoppolo could be the antidote the Colts are looking for
And, as has been well documented, San Francisco is looking to deal Jimmy Garoppolo. So now we’re at six potential options — Watson, Garoppolo, Winston, Bridgewater, Trubisky and Mariota — for those five or six veteran spots.
Are any of these options — with the exception of Watson — a clear upgrade on Wentz? No.
But we’re not done.
Other quarterbacks mentioned as trade possibilities include Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Kyler Murray and Jordan Love. If just one of them is moved, the options increase. Carr, Cousins and Murray would be upgrades on Wentz; though leadership questions swirl around Cousins and Murray.
And let’s not forget the draft class. Though it’s considered uninspiring, Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis are almost certain first-round picks with Matt Correl, Carson Strong and Desmond Ridder also possible high picks. Is a rookie selected with the 42nd pick a clear upgrade on Wentz? No.
In the past 20 years, 10 quarterbacks have been picked between No. 35 and 50: John Beck, Derek Carr, Jimmy Clausen, Kellen Clemens, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Kevin Kolb, Drew Lock, Geno Smith and Drew Stanton. Only three of them — Dalton, Carr and Kaepernick — developed into above average starting quarterbacks; a 30% chance the Colts hit with the pick.
The rookies add three more teams looking for quarterbacks to the mix but it’s five more options to add to the pool, increasing the number to 12 available quarterbacks.
So that’s 12 quarterbacks for 8 or 9 teams. With that ratio, the Colts could double up, sign Bridgewater and use the No. 42 pick — or trade up — on a quarterback. Bridgewater (or the equivalent) isn’t going to cut into a lot of that NFL-high $70 million cap space.
Is that a clear upgrade on Wentz? Again, no. But it increases the odds and maybe that’s better than what you thought was available.
Contact IndyStar Deputy Sports Editor Nat Newell at (317) 444-6182 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NatJNewell.