After weeks of waiting for the first Quarterback domino to fall, it has all kicked off. First, it was confirmed Aaron Rodgers would be re-signing with the Green Bay Packers. Even bigger news followed as a blockbuster trade to send Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos was announced. Like many Colts fans, I had high hopes Wilson would come to the Colts if he was available for a trade, so in a sense, his trade is disappointing. That being said, I envisaged a trade package similar to the Rams trade for Stafford. The Wilson package is far more generous and one the Colts could not and probably should not have matched.
These two momentous pieces of Quarterback news must spark a reality check in Indianapolis. For weeks Ballard, Reich, and Irsay have been contemplating whether Carson Wentz should be their starting QB next year. With Rodgers and Wilson off the table, there are no clear upgrades to Wentz available, although Garoppolo could arguably be an improvement.
Whether Indianapolis sticks with Wentz or goes after a free agent like Mariota or Trubisky, it’s hard to see the Colts beating the likes of the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, Chargers, or Broncos to the Superbowl given the elite QBs those teams can boast. Despite Jim Irsay’s postseason commitment, the Colts would be all in for 2022; it may be the time for the Colts to take a longer-term view.
It looks increasingly like Chris Ballard will have to draft his franchise Quarterback if he is to find one. This looks to be a weak QB class, and Indianapolis would likely have to move up a long way to secure the guy they want if they find someone they like in this year’s class. All signs point to the Colts being aggressive next year and moving up to draft the Quarterback they like in the 2023 draft.
With all that in mind, there is a case for Jordan Love being the Colts’ starting Quarterback in 2022. I know Love won’t have been anyone’s first choice at the start of this offseason, but hear me out.
With Aaron Rodgers seemingly staying in Green Bay for the foreseeable future (although his contract doesn’t mean he won’t retire next year), the Packers have no reason to keep Love. The longer they keep him, the lower his trade value is. So they are better off trading him now and attempting to find Rodgers’ successor when they need to, rather than keeping Love on the team and on the sidelines indefinitely.
From the Colts’ perspective, Love should be cheap. His value should have fallen significantly since he was drafted at the end of the first round in 2020. Given that Green Bay clearly has no need for Love and no incentive to keep him, Love could be available for as little as a third-round draft pick. Assuming the Colts can trade Wentz (and there does appear to be a market for him), Indianapolis should be able to get more for Wentz than they give to Green Bay to get Love. That would provide them with the ammunition to either address their significant other needs in the draft this year or acquire more capital next year that can be used to target a Quarterback.
Given he’s still in the middle of his rookie contract, Jordan Love would still be very cheap and certainly significantly cheaper than Wentz. Indianapolis already has one of the better cap situations in the league. Having Love on a rookie contract would give them more freedom in free agency, especially if they are contemplating drafting a Quarterback next year and wouldn’t face a sudden increase in the amount they’re spending at QB.
That flexibility in free agency could be used to fill key needs that will need to be addressed regardless of who is under center over the next few seasons. In particular, Indianapolis could look to sign a talented veteran edge rusher like Reddick or Ogbah. The needs at WR, TE, and LT also need to be addressed either in the draft or free agency.
Jordan Love would be a low-risk, high reward option. He was a first-round draft pick in a class with some very talented Quarterbacks. Burrow, Tagovailoa, and Herbert were drafted well-before Love, but Hurts was drafted afterward and has shown promise as an NFL starter. After two years of being coached by Matt LaFleur and learning behind Aaron Rodgers, there is a legitimate chance Love could be a good starting NFL Quarterback. If he is, the Colts would have picked him up for peanuts.
There is, of course, the chance he isn’t any good. I won’t pretend to be an expert on Love’s game, but I will freely admit he looked bad this season when he filled in for Rodgers against Kansas City. However, that game isn’t necessarily a fair reflection of how he can play if he’s given the time to properly prepare to be a team’s starter.
Even if Love doesn’t turn out to be very good, there’s very little long-term cost. If Indianapolis only traded a third-round pick to get him, it wouldn’t jeopardize their ability to be aggressive and draft a Quarterback next year if Love didn’t work out.
Obviously, if Chris Ballard doesn’t think Jordan Love isn’t a very good Quarterback, there’s no point trading for him if he’s only going to waste draft capital and waste everyone’s time. However, if Ballard thinks there is a reasonable chance he has what it takes to be a successful starting Quarterback, he could be worth a gamble. If he does turn out to be a good Quarterback but not good enough to get the Colts a ring, Indianapolis can always trade him to recoup some of the draft capital they use drafting the player they feel is the guy.