All indications are the Indianapolis Colts will be starting over at quarterback this offseason. But that doesn’t mean the team won’t need a veteran signal caller in 2023.
Even if the Colts make quarterback their top choice in the 2023 NFL Draft, they could use an experienced quarterback in case the rookie needs more time to develop before starting at the beginning of September.
To satisfy that need, The Athletic’s Zak Keefer argued that Mike White should be one of many quarterbacks the Colts target in free agency.
Mike White, Other Free Agent QB Targets for Colts
White’s legend with the New York Jets is bigger than what he actually produced. He became a fan-favorite in New York after leading the Jets to a surprising victory against the eventual AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals during 2021. In the victory, he threw for 405 yards and 3 touchdowns.
White starred again during his first 2022 start, tossing for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Chicago Bears.
But outside of that, White has struggled. He had a 4-interception game against the Buffalo Bills in 2021 and threw 2 picks with zero touchdowns versus the Minnesota Vikings this year.
Overall, White holds a 2-5 record as an NFL starter. In 8 appearances, he has completed 62.2% of his passes for 2,145 yards, 8 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
White’s inconsistencies shouldn’t bother Indianapolis too much, though. He should be one of the cheaper free agent options behind center, and his experience would be a help to any of the young quarterbacks coming out of the 2023 draft.
That’s what Keefer argued the Colts need from a potential free agent quarterback this season.
“A 6-11 season in which the young quarterback shows tangible progress from September to January? That’d be a win for this team moving forward,” Keefer wrote. “Additionally, an experienced starter would be an important resource, both on and off the field, for a rookie passer who’ll need time to grow in [Shane] Steichen’s system.”
In addition to White, Keefer argued Gardner Minshew, who played for Steichen with the Philadelphia Eagles and is another former fan-favorite from Jacksonville, is an intriguing 2023 fit at quarterback for the Colts.
Keefer also mentioned Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum, Andy Dalton and Jacoby Brissett as free-agent options behind center.
Colts’ Potential Plan for Matt Ryan, Nick Foles
To make room for a free agent quarterback, the Colts will first have some work to do.
Keefer proposed the possibility of both Matt Ryan and Nick Foles retiring this offseason, but Keefer also admitted that’s not likely. More probable than not, the Colts will be releasing Ryan and Foles toward the beginning of free agency.
“After trading for Ryan last March, the Colts reworked part of his deal, pushing some of Ryan’s guaranteed money into this coming season, convinced it would be a two-year marriage,” Keefer wrote. “They were wrong, and now they’ll have to bite the bullet: even after his release, Ryan will count $18 million against the Colts’ 2023 salary cap without ever playing a down.
“It’s time the Colts turn the page and stop convincing themselves that aging, veteran quarterbacks are the answer.”
That’s the bad news. The good news is cutting Ryan will open up about $17.2 million in cap space. Releasing Foles would give the Colts an additional $2.1 million in space.
Making those cuts and then signing a quarterback such as White could save the Colts as much as $16 million against the salary cap. White’s base salary in 2022 was about $2.5 million.
The Colts could then spend the remaining savings to fill holes elsewhere on offense.