Colts Urged to Consider Big Offseason Move

Jeff Saturday

Getty One NFL analyst suggested interim head coach Jeff Saturday and the Indianapolis Colts should consider making a major move during the upcoming offseason.

The Indianapolis Colts have been in NFL purgatory of sorts over the last few years. The Colts haven’t won a playoff game since 2018, but they also haven’t been bad enough to hold a first-round draft pick above No. 13 overall during that time.

Depending on how the final six weeks of the 2022 season go, Indianapolis may be in the same position again this offseason. At 4-7-1 entering Week 13, the Colts hold the No. 14 overall pick.

In early mock drafts, NFL draft experts have sent Indianapolis a quarterback in the middle of the first round. However, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox argued that the Colts are on the short list of team candidates that should consider trading up in the first round in an effort to find the franchise’s next quarterback.

“There are a couple of teams that could be candidates to flip early first-round selections for massive trade hauls,” Knox wrote. “The Bears would own the No. 2 pick if the season ended today, and they appear to have a rising quarterback in Justin Fields. The Seahawks would hold the fourth pick—from Denver in the Wilson trade—and they could look to re-sign surprising breakout Geno Smith instead of drafting a quarterback.

“Teams projected to pick in the middle of Round 1 such as the Indianapolis Colts (14th), and Atlanta Falcons (15th) could be realistic trade partners in this scenario.”

Colts Need at Quarterback

Given the need Indianapolis has behind center, Knox’s assertion that the Colts should consider trading up is a valid one.

Matt Ryan has not lived up to the hope he brought for the Colts in their offseason trade. He hasn’t had good protection, and sometimes Indianapolis’ receivers have let him down, but Ryan is tied for the NFL lead in giveaways. He appears past his prime and will turn 38 in May. Indianapolis could cut him to save about $17 million of salary cap space next year.

Even if the Colts elect to keep Ryan and avoid still being on the hook for the other $18 million from the last year of his deal, Indianapolis will probably be in the market for a quarterback this offseason. Any young signal caller Indianapolis can add in that situation could learn under Ryan and compete with the veteran during training camp.

Early mock drafts have the Colts targeting quarterbacks. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler predicted Indianapolis to select Kentucky’s Will Levis on December 1, and NFL draft expert Doug Farrar of USA Today projected Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson to the Colts on November 23.

Knox isn’t necessarily disagreeing. His point is that if the Colts are more interested in Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, who are widely considered two of the top players available in the entire draft class, then Indianapolis could explore options to trade up to land one of the best quarterback prospects available.

Lack of Aggressiveness from Colts GM Chris Ballard

The big question behind a possible move up in the draft for the Colts is whether general manager Chris Ballard would do it. Also, will he even be in the position to do such a trade?

Ballard hasn’t exactly been aggressive at finding quarterbacks in the draft. He hasn’t selected a signal caller before Day 3 since becoming Colts general manager in 2017. Ballard had Andrew Luck on the roster for his first few seasons, but since Luck’s retirement, Indianapolis has chosen veteran starting options behind center over drafting quarterbacks in the first three rounds.

Would Ballard do an about-face this offseason and not only draft a quarterback early but trade up 10 selections or more to do so? Such a move would cost Indianapolis its 2024 first-round pick and maybe even its 2025 first-rounder.

That’s a very bold move for a GM that’s been prudent over the years.

Of course, this is all assuming Ballard is still the Colts general manager. Owner Jim Irsay said he would be during Jeff Saturday’s introductory press conference, but Irsay also claimed Frank Reich was safe about a week before firing him.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that by season’s end, Indianapolis may be required to give up far less to move up for Young or Stroud than they are at the moment. There are 10 teams in the NFL with 4 wins, and right now, the Colts are ranked last in draft order among those 10 clubs.

If Indianapolis finished the season poorly, the Colts could easily improve their draft position given how close a lot of teams are to each other in the standings entering Week 13.

Read More