The Indianapolis Colts elected once again to fill their hole at quarterback with a stopgap rather than a long-term solution this offseason. But don’t expect new Colts signal caller Matt Ryan to be the team’s starter for only one season like Carson Wentz and Philip Rivers were.
At least that’s not the expectation Colts owner Jim Irsay possesses.
While speaking with the media during Day 3 of the NFL Draft on April 30, Irsay shared that the organization views Ryan as “very possibly a three-year thing.”
Ryan will turn 37 in May, but he remains one of the most durable quarterbacks in the league. Ryan has missed just one start over the last 12 years. He’s also sat out only three games during his entire 14-year career.
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Matt Ryan versus Philip Rivers
Some NFL analysts compared the Colts trading for Ryan to when the team signed Philip Rivers in free agency before the 2020 season. Both were older veteran quarterbacks with a similar skillset when joining the Colts.
If Ryan has a similar first year in Indianapolis as Rivers did, that would be great news for the Colts. Rivers led Indianapolis to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth in 2020 while throwing for 4,169 yards and 24 touchdowns.
But it’s important to note that Ryan is two years younger than what Rivers was in 2020. Rivers turned 39 before the end of that regular season and then retired following a first-round playoff departure.
The Colts will have two years with Ryan behind center should he play until turning 39 like Rivers. That’s also when Ryan’s current contract with the Colts will expire.
Peyton Manning retired following his age 39 season, as did Ben Roethlisberger this offseason. Tom Brady, though, will turn 45 this August and continues to play at a high level.
As Irsay said, it’s hard to really know for sure when the Colts will start to see a decline in Ryan’s skills.
Finding Long-Term QB Solution Remains ‘Highest Priority’ for Colts
Some mock drafts this offseason had Indianapolis targeting one of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft. While the 2022 draft class is reportedly weak behind center, picking a signal caller to sit and develop behind Ryan would have been an intriguing selection for the Colts.
But, that didn’t happen. Instead, general manager Chris Ballard addressed the team’s biggest offensive needs at wide receiver, tight end and offensive tackle on Day 2. Then, the Colts added defensive depth with their next couple picks.
Still, Irsay stressed that finding a long-term quarterback solution remains vital to the organization.
“It’s our highest priority,” Irsay said. “[But] you can’t force something that’s not there.”
That quote indicates the Colts were not sold on Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis or any of the other quarterbacks in the 2022 class. All of them except Kenny Pickett were available when the Colts selected at No. 53 and No. 73 on Day 2, and Indianapolis passed on selecting a quarterback.
Willis was also available when the Colts made their next pick at No. 77.
Indianapolis will wait to find a long-term solution behind center, but if Irsay gets his wish, the middle of the decade will arrive before the Colts must find a replacement for Ryan.