The Indianapolis Colts expected their quarterback carousel to end with the Matt Ryan trade this past offseason. But after 10 weeks, the Colts sit below .500 and have gone through a midseason coaching change.
The new coaching regime installed on November 7 suggested that Indianapolis might finally be ready to start fresh with a young signal caller. That will at least, hopefully, provide the franchise continuity behind center for the next couple seasons.
“If head coach Josh McDaniels is retained for the 2023 season despite Las Vegas’ early-season struggles — which is the current expectation — it wouldn’t be surprising to see someone fall on the sword,” Kyed wrote. “And there has been speculation around the NFL that it could be Carr via a trade.”
Kyed included the Colts on a list of nine teams that could be looking for a new starting quarterback this offseason. Although the 2023 NFL Draft is supposed to feature a stronger class of signal callers than this past year, not all nine teams will be able to find a starting quarterback in the draft.
Carr on the Trading Block?
Thanks in part to the Colts defeating the Raiders, 25-20, during Week 10, Las Vegas is experiencing a very disappointing season. The Raiders are 2-7 entering Week 11 and have all but been eliminated from playoff contention.
Las Vegas entered this season with high expectations coming off a surprise playoff appearance during the 2021 season in which the team dealt with multiple distractions, including a midseason coaching change.
Carr emerged as a true leader and had one of his best seasons to date in 2021, but he hasn’t produced at the same level in 2022 despite having top wideout Davante Adams now on the offense.
While the 31-year-old quarterback is on pace for more touchdown passes than last season, his completion percentage is its lowest since 2015. He’s also on pace for 4,020 passing yards, which is about 800 yards shy of his total last year.
Carr’s yards per attempt average is down nearly a full yard this season from 2021.
Coming off the strong season last year, the Raiders signed Carr to a three-year extension worth $120.5 million with about $24.9 million guaranteed. Given that expensive deal, his subpar season and the lack of success teams that traded for quarterbacks this past offseason have experienced this fall, a league source told Kyed he expects Carr “could garner a second-round pick plus.”
Carr a Realistic Option for the Colts in 2023?
Part of why the trade compensation for Carr could be less than a first-round pick is because of his expensive contract. Spotrac reported he will count as about a $34.9 million cap hit in 2023. Then, his cap hit will rise above $43 million for both the 2024 and 2025 seasons.
Ryan’s contract expires following the 2023 season, but next year, he is set to have a $35.2 million cap hit. If the Colts cut him, the team will have $18 million in dead cap space.
That means a Carr trade and subsequent Ryan release would cost Indianapolis $52.9 million towards the salary cap. That alone makes it extremely unlikely the Colts could realistically trade for the Raiders starting quarterback.
If Indianapolis is set on moving on from Ryan, the team is probably better suited finding a much cheaper veteran on the free agent market. The most likely candidates would be Baker Mayfield, Teddy Bridgwater, Jacoby Brissett and Andy Dalton.
The more probable scenario, though, is for the Colts to draft a new signal caller. In that situation, Ryan could remain with the team through the final season of his contract and tutor the young quarterback. Furthermore, the Colts would also finally have the same starter behind center in Week 1 for back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2015-16 (assuming Ryan starts ahead of the rookie).
It will be interesting to see what the Colts do at quarterback this offseason. General manager Chris Ballard has been reluctant to draft a signal caller early in drafts since coming to the Colts, but given recent history, owner Jim Irsay will have a major say in what the team does next behind center.
Indianapolis currently hold the No. 15 pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft.