The Indianapolis Colts have seemed like the best fit for the quarterback Lamar Jackson all offseason. But the Colts don’t sound very interested.
At least new Colts head coach Shane Steichen didn’t when he spoke to the media on April 12.
“We’re focused on the draft and focused on the players that are in the building right now,” said Steichen. “That’s where we’re at.”
The Colts hold the No. 4 pick in the 2023 NFL draft, which puts them in a strong position to land one of the top quarterbacks in the class.
Colts Out of the Running for Lamar Jackson?
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport implied that Steichen’s remarks, as is the case with every NFL coach this time of year, should be taken with a grain of salt. But Rapoport also argued that Indianapolis’ actions support what Steichen told the media on April 12.
“The reality is they have not yet made a move for Lamar Jackson, and the actions speak a lot louder than his words although his words are ‘we are focused on the draft,'” said Rapoport. “Remember, they have the No. 4 overall pick.
“They are taking a look at all the quarterbacks, presumably, that is another prime quarterback location.”
Colts general manager Chris Ballard didn’t rule out trading for Jackson when he spoke to the media at the NFL annual spring meeting. But The Athletic’s Zak Keefer has reported that owner Jim Irsay prefers the franchise start over with a rookie signal caller.
“The Colts aren’t ruling anything out, not yet, but deep down, Irsay wants his team to find its next quarterback in the draft,” wrote Keefer.
Keefer detailed that Irsay has that preference because of the draft capital the team would have to give up for Jackson. The 2019 MVP would cost at least two first-round picks in a trade. He also might be seeking a fully-guaranteed deal with his next contract.
With a rookie, the Colts would have a quarterback on an affordable deal for the next four years.
Colts Focused on Drafting Quarterback
Rapoport described Indianapolis’ spot at No. 4 as a prime quarterback location. However, it’s very unlikely they will have their choice of any signal caller in the class.
The Carolina Panthers traded for the No. 1 pick from the Chicago Bears and are expected to pick a quarterback. The expectations are the same for the Houston Texans at No. 2.
That means unless something weird happens, Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud will be gone by No. 4. Then, the Colts will have their pick of either Kentucky’s Will Levis or Florida’s Anthony Richardson.
Both quarterbacks possess high upside but are more raw than either Young or Stroud.
That could make the signal callers already on Indianapolis’ roster particularly important. This offseason, the Colts signed veteran Gardner Minshew, who could be a placeholder behind center until the rookie the team selects is ready to start.
They also still have former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles and Sam Ehlinger on the roster. Each started multiple games for the Colts during the 2022 season.
While Steichen said the team is focused on its current players and the draft, he didn’t reveal what specific traits the organization is looking for in its next quarterback.
Steichen has experienced success as an offensive assistant with traditional pocket passers such as Philip Rivers and Justin Herbert and with a more running-styled signal caller in Jalen Hurts.
“I’m looking for good guys. I mean, that’s the biggest thing,” Steichen told the media. “Obviously, there (are) the tangibles and the intangibles, and I’m not going to get into all the details of what I look for, but really I want good guys in this building.”