Colts’ Jim Irsay Making QB Preference Clear: Report

Jim Irsay

Getty Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay prefers one particular strategy to finding a long-term answer at quarterback this offseason.

Owner Jim Irsay has been more involved in the major decisions for the Indianapolis Colts the past couple years.

The Athletic’s Zak Keefer detailed that Irsay will not have a considerable say in the team’s decision at quarterback this offseason. However, Keefer did report that Irsay has a preference in the direction the franchise takes at the crucial position.

“The owner wants the draft-and-develop route, preferring the chance to grow his own while capitalizing on the financial flexibility a young quarterback’s contract affords the team,” Keefer wrote. “He said last week that though the type of contract disgruntled Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is seeking is “no problem” — likely north of $150 million fully guaranteed, at the very least — it’s the lost draft capital (two first-round picks) and salary-cap restrictions that have tempered Irsay’s interest in such a blockbuster move.

“The Colts aren’t ruling anything out, not yet, but deep down, Irsay wants his team to find its next quarterback in the draft.”

Indianapolis has the No. 4 pick in the 2023 NFL draft. If the franchise holds onto that selection, it will be the team’s highest draft pick since the Colts took Andrew Luck at No. 1 overall in the 2012 draft.

Advantages to Drafting Rookie QB

As Keefer noted, there’s one obvious advantage to drafting a signal caller — quarterbacks straight out of college come with affordable rookie contracts.

That affordability can last up to five years because of the fifth-year option the NFL allows for first-round picks. With that comes a window where contenders can spend a lot of money on other positions — at least until the quarterback’s first major payday following the end of his rookie deal.

Drafting a signal caller this year would give the Colts that advantage — an edge the franchise hasn’t had since Luck’s rookie deal from 2012-16.

The Colts cleared a little more than $17 million in cap space by releasing veteran Matt Ryan. Drafting a new quarterback means those funds could go towards fixing the offensive line, adding a weapon or shoring up a hole on defense.

If the Colts elected to go the veteran quarterback route again, as they have for several years in a row, they will have to spend far more behind center. The best available veteran signal caller, Lamar Jackson, is reportedly seeking a contract similar to the one Deshaun Watson signed last year, which was a five-year deal with $250 million fully guaranteed.

Quarterbacks Set to be Available for Colts at No. 4

The biggest issue with Irsay’s desire to draft a quarterback is where Indianapolis is picking. While fourth is rather high, two signal callers will likely still be off the board when the Colts’ No. 4 selection comes.

That means if the team is dead set on drafting a quarterback, Indianapolis’ top choices will likely be Kentucky’s Will Levis or Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

Both come with their concerns. Neither is as pro-ready as the top signal callers in the draft. Richardson is extremely athletic but raw while Levis possesses a strong arm but has struggled with accuracy.

Irsay, though, doesn’t sound very concerned about those question marks.

“It seems like there’s going to be a great prospect there,” Irsay told the media. “And we just have to make sure, you know, (he) fits Shane’s model and really what he’s looking for.”

Keefer reported that while Irsay’s preference is clear, head coach Shane Steichen and general manager Chris Ballard will make the quarterback decision for the team. Irsay will then provide “the final stamp of approval.”

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