Insider Names Surprising QB Trade Candidates for Colts

Chris Ballard

Getty NFL Insider Ian Rapoport named two surprising quarterback trade candidates for the Indianapolis Colts.

Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson were the first two dominos in the offseason quarterback frenzy, but one big one remains — Deshaun Watson. Where Watson lands will greatly impact where other signal callers may go.

At least that’s what NFL Insider Ian Rapoport of NFL Network implied while appearing as a guest on The Pat McAfee Show. And during his appearance, Rapoport named two surprising quarterback trade candidates for the Indianapolis Colts — Baker Mayfield and Matt Ryan.

Rapoport says both the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons are contenders in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes. But if either team pulls off a trade with the Houston Texans, Rapoport suggested it’d be “easier” for the Browns and Falcons to not include their current starting quarterback in the deal.

So in the case that the Browns or Falcons trade for Watson, they could then be looking for another trade partner to deal their 2021 quarterback starter to. Rapoport named the Colts as an interested party in those hypothetical scenarios.

“I would think [a trade for Watson] be more, you give draft picks, and then you say, alright, well Baker is available. Does a team like the Colts or the Seahawks, do they then make a play for Baker?” Rapoport said. “It’s hard to put all these guys in the deal. It’s actually much easier to do them as separate deals.”

“If the Falcons were to get Deshaun Watson, which I would not consider them the front runner right now. Then I’d say, you’re probably looking at Matt Ryan going somewhere else. Maybe to your Colts.”

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Matt Ryan or Baker Mayfield to the Colts?

Ryan has been a much better quarterback than Mayfield in the NFL, but the Falcons quarterback is considerably older and more expensive.

Even with the Falcons restructuring Ryan’s contract on March 11, Ryan has a cap hit of at least $36 million for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The Falcons would keep some of that money on their books, but if the Colts were to trade for Ryan, the 2016 MVP would still cost a lot.

Fortunately, Indianapolis leads the NFL in salary cap space as of March 15. Spotrac reports the Colts have $62 million in cap space, which is about $18 million more than any other team.

Ryan posted 3,968 passing yards and 20 touchdowns with 12 interceptions last season. It was the first time since 2010 that Ryan failed to reach 4,000 yards through the air.

Although losing Julio Jones, missing Calvin Ridley for a majority of the season, and playing behind a poor Atlanta offensive line hurt, Ryan is likely past his prime. He will turn 37 in May.

Mayfield is still on his rookie contract and has a cap hit of about $18.8 million for the 2022 season. The Browns exercised Mayfield’s fifth-year option last April.

But Mayfield has won more than six games in just one of his four seasons. He has never thrown for 4,000 yards or 30 touchdowns. Last season, Mayfield recorded a career-low 17 touchdowns and 7.2 yards per attempt. He also had 13 interceptions.

Mayfield will turn 27 in April.

Colts Waiting on Deshaun Watson Trade?

Identifying whether the Colts should prefer Ryan or Mayfield is fun speculation, but the truth is that the Colts aren’t likely to receive the opportunity to chose. The Browns and Falcons can’t both trade for Watson, and only the team that lands him will then make their 2021 starting quarterback available in a trade.

It’s possible neither the Browns nor Falcons land Watson. Rapoport implied the New Orleans Saints are the favorite to trade for the Texans quarterback.

“It feels like to me the Saints are in a pretty good place. They have a good team. New Orleans is an awesome city,” Rapoport said. “But [Watson is] going weigh everything and look at his different options.”

In that scenario, the Colts trade rumors for Jimmy Garoppolo likely heat up again.

A lot can still happen, but it’s clear Watson is the big domino that will impact many teams and quarterbacks across the league.

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