Ex-Falcons QB Linked to Colts as Potential ‘Bridge/Backup’: Insider

Marcus Mariota

Getty Former Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota started 13 games in 2022.

The Indianapolis Colts are in midst of sorting out their coaching staff, but will also soon need to decide on their quarterback situation entering 2023.

The Colts could save about $17 million in cap space if they cut 2022 starter Matt Ryan and move on to a rookie quarterback through the upcoming draft. With that in mind, Sports Illustrated’s Destin Adams tweeted on February 28 that he thinks veteran QB Marcus Mariota could join Indianapolis to either serve as a short-term starting QB or as a backup.

“(General manager Chris) Ballard and the Colts have had interest in Mariota for quite some time,” Adams wrote. “If he’s ready to sign as a bridge/backup Indy could be a solid fit!”

Last offseason, Mariota entered free agency and rumors heated up between him and the Colts. Mariota, however, ultimately signed with Atlanta.

Mariiota is coming off a year in which he started in 13 games and had a 5-8 record.

The former Heisman Trophy winner completed 61.3% of his passes in 2022 for 2,219 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also totaled 85 carries for a career-best 438 yards and four touchdowns.

But his on-field performance wasn’t enough, as the team instead preferred to see third-round rookie QB Desmond Ridder in the starting role.

Instead of moving on as a backup, Mariota rather elected to undergo surgery to end his season. The procedure was “for a chronic knee injury, even though he never appeared on the injury report this season with a knee injury and didn’t miss a snap due to one,” according to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones on December 18.

On February 28, the Falcons officially announced Mariota’s release from the team, saving $12 million in cap space.

Colts’ Coaching Additions

No matter who ends up as the Colts quarterback, coaching is going to be key under new Colts head coach Shane Steichen.

A day after announcing the hiring of offensive line coach Tony Sparano Jr. and retaining defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, the Colts received an update from another staff member.

Reggie Wayne officially announced that he is returning to Indianapolis for the second year as Colts wide receivers coach on February 28 via Twitter.

Keeping Wayne with the Colts coaching staff is important as it allows him to expand his personal bond with leading receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and young WR Alec Pierce.

Steichen began the process of filling out his offensive staff the day he was hired (February 14). In just two weeks, he and the Colts have hired Jim Bob Cooter (offensive coordinator), Tom Manning (tight ends coach) and DeAndre Smith (running backs coach) in addition to Sparano Jr.

The Colts still have three “notable” offensive coaching vacancies entering March: quarterbacks coach, passing game coordinator and run game coordinator.

Former Colts Coaches Elsewhere

Pride of Detroit’s Jeremy Reisman wrote on February 28 that John Fox is stepping away from the Colts as a senior defensive consultant to join the Detroit Lions in the same role.

Fox’s departure means he is the sixth personnel member to leave Indianapolis this offseason, along with special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone, running backs coach Scottie Montgomery, offensive line coach Chris Strausser, interim play caller Parks Frazier and assistant OL coach Klayton Adams.

Former 2022 Colts offensive coordinator Marcus Brady was also recently promoted by the Philadelphia Eagles to become their senior offensive assistant. Brady joined the Eagles in late November as a consultant after he was fired by the Colts earlier that month.

Brady did, however, get the last laugh between both parties, as he became an NFC Champion and returned to coaching alongside 2018-2020 Colts OC Nick Sirianni (now the Eagles head coach).

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