The Indianapolis Colts traded for a former first-round quarterback in Matt Ryan this past offseason. But Colts beat writer Nate Atkins of The Indianapolis Star sees Indianapolis possibly acquiring yet another former first-round signal caller next offseason.
In his final “bold” prediction for the Colts’ 2022 season, Atkins predicted Indianapolis will trade cornerback Kenny Moore II for quarterback Justin Fields after the Super Bowl.
Even Atkins admitted this proposed trade is the boldest of his bold predictions. But the beat writer laid out a few different reasons for why it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.
Justin Fields May Need a Fresh Start
Ryan is currently signed to a 2-year contract, so it’s very unlikely he is going anywhere before the 2023 season. But Atkins argued Fields spending time on the bench watching Ryan every week could be wonderful for his career.
It also wouldn’t hurt if the Colts had a succession plan behind center.
“A year of learning Reich’s offense from a Pro Bowler while subbing in for run packages with Taylor could help create the bridge to the future in a way that’s suddenly affordable,” wrote Atkins.
“It’s risky, but so is every unproven young quarterback, and it’s time for the Colts to get bold a year before they need to.”
Fields struggled as a rookie after the Chicago Bears drafted him at No. 11 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. He posted a 2-8 record as a starter, recording a 58.9% completion percentage, and 1,870 passing yards. Fields also had 7 passing touchdowns, 2 rushing scores and 10 interceptions.
The second-year quarterback will be playing for a new coaching staff this season. But there are still concerns about how much the Bears will be able to develop Fields during 2022 when the team did little to upgrade its wide receiver core.
Kenny Moore II a Trade Candidate for Colts Next Offseason?
Like Fields for the Bears, the Colts trading Moore seems wildly unrealistic at first, but it starts to make more sense after Atkins’ explanation.
While Moore hasn’t been an issue since returning to the field at the beginning of training camp, he performed “a hold-in” during voluntary offseason workouts this year in an attempt to receive a new contract. But with two years remaining on his deal, Moore had no leverage, and therefore, did not receive a new contract.
Although things won’t change too dramatically with the cornerback’s leverage, it’s possible Indianapolis won’t want to go through another offseason with Moore’s contract being a focal point. Atkins also argued that under new Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, Moore might not remain the dominant slot cornerback he has been in recent seasons.
“That’s because the scheme is no longer built around the nickel cornerback, something that’s usually a patched-together position in Seattle-style defenses,” Atkins wrote. “Moore II could break out of those limitations, but late last season showed his own limitations in man coverage or when he doesn’t have eyes planted on the quarterback in likely throwing lanes. He might just not be in as many positions to make plays this year.
Spotrac reports Moore will count as a $7.545 million cap hit next season. Trading him will open additional cap space, which the Colts may badly need. Indianapolis currently has about $31.2 million in salary cap space for 2023, which is 12th most in the NFL. But extensions for Quenton Nelson, Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor could take a lot of that space as well as a new deal for Yannick Ngakoue.
If the Colts were to explore trading Moore, Chicago is a likely landing spot because former Indianapolis defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is now the Bears’ head coach.
Moore arrived in Indianapolis in 2018, the same season Eberflus became Colts defensive coordinator. During four seasons in Eberflus’ defense, Moore grew into one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL.