Unimaginable Takes: Trading up for Tua Tagovailoa is the Colts’ future

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - NOVEMBER 09: Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on prior to the snap during the first quarter against the LSU Tigers in the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - NOVEMBER 09: Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on prior to the snap during the first quarter against the LSU Tigers in the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Colts are ready to decide their future at quarterback. Trading up for Tua Tagovailoa, the best QB in the draft, should be it.

Ever since the 2019 season concluded, the talk around the league for the Colts’ situation at quarterback has boiled down into 2 main paths of action:

  1. Select a top QB in the first round


2. Sign a veteran free agent as a bridge quarterback for the next year or two

Of course, those seem to be the most logical options for the team. With the 13th pick, the Colts are in a position to draft one of the top QB’s in the draft this year. If the front office doesn’t believe in this strategy or doesn’t feel they can draft a good enough QB for the future (they likely can’t), the Colts can sign a veteran like Philip Rivers to bridge the gap between Jacoby Brissett and whoever the team decides is its next cornerstone player.

Unfortunately for the Colts, reality has to set in, to some extent. There are simply too many quarterback-needy teams picking before the Colts for them to be able a good enough player. Three of the top quarterbacks will almost certainly be off the board by the time the top-5 is rounded out.

With at least one more team looking to find their next franchise quarterback, it’s all but certain that the 13th pick won’t yield a good enough player at the position. And unless the front office is willing to overpay for a veteran quarterback, that scenario might not be the best option, either.

There still is hope to solve the problem this season. The Colts have a number of draft picks for the next couple of years and can use them to their advantage if they feel that their future lies in the top picks of this draft, the best move is to trade up into the top three and draft their guy.

Joe Burrow is a lock for the number one pick (unless he pulls a John Elway/Eli Manning move), but the next quarterback in line, Tua Tagovailoa, is the perfect choice for the Colts as the future of the franchise if they are willing to pay up for him.

What’s the move?

To dive into the logistics, it’s obviously going to cost the Colts if they are truly willing to trade up. The best options would be to trade up to number 3 with the Lions or 4 with the Giants. They won’t be able to trade up to 2nd with the Redskins; DE Chase Young is regarded as the best overall player in the draft and Washington won’t risk giving him up, even if other defensive linemen are waiting at 13.

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The Colts also can’t trade up to 5th with the Chargers; they need a QB and 13th isn’t going to guarantee them their future of the franchise. With that said, the most logical option for the Colts is to trade up to 3rd. There haven’t been many reports regarding the Lions’ strategy heading into the draft, unlike other teams around them.

It’s unclear which direction they will go with Matthew Stafford in the next few years; this opens the door for the Lions to pursue a replacement as early as this season. If the Colts trade into that 3rd pick, it confirms that they’ll have Tagovailoa in their line of sight to draft without any problems.

For the Colts to pull this off, they’ll have to give up their 13th pick this season, along with their 34th pick this season, as well. Throw in the 3rd round pick this season and it could be a done deal. The best option is to package the 13th and 34th picks this year, along with their 1st round pick next year and also their 2nd or 3rd next year.

It seems like too much to give up on the surface, especially considering the value that Ballard holds on draft picks, but for this deal to go through, the front office will believe that the team will greatly improve next season to make a return to the playoffs. This decreases the value for the 2021 picks and gives the Colts the upper hand in this deal with the Lions.

The trade:

Colts give:

  • 2020 1st round pick (13th overall), 2020 2nd round pick (34th overall)
  • 2021 1st round pick, 2021 3rd round pick

Colts receive:

  • 2020 1st round pick (3rd overall)
  • 2021 6th round pick

Why Tua?

The reason the Colts should pursue this option is pretty clear: the Alabama product is the best quarterback in the draft and arguably better than any of the prospects slated to come to the league in the 2021 draft, as well.

As a 19-year-old true freshman, he was called upon on College Football’s biggest stage and delivered a classic clutch performance, leading Alabama to a National Championship over Georgia. He followed that up with a monstrous 2018 season, finishing with 43 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, all with just a hair under 4,000 passing yards.

2019 finished on a low note, as Tagovailoa suffered a major hip injury, limiting his season to only 8 games. Still, he posted 33 touchdowns and 3 interceptions during that span. It’s obvious that even with his hip injury, he is a better player than Burrow and Justin Herbert.

Tua’s accuracy throwing the football is levels above the other prospects, only comparable to that of the best QB’s in the NFL. He is a professional in his mechanics and is more than mobile enough by today’s standards to be considered a dual-threat.

His professionalism only increases off the field, as well. Many young college prospects suffer from immaturity, and that carries into the NFL. Tagovailoa, on the other hand, shows the maturity and poise that a quarterback needs and that teams are looking for. This is exactly what the Colts need; he is a born leader and can handle the pressure.

He can throw the ball down the field and use his legs to extend plays. Tua will have the ability to take over a game much like Andrew Luck did during his first few years with the team, and Tua has the advantage of a top-tier offensive line and a young core on defense.

The front office won’t need to overpay for a veteran bridge quarterback; this allows for them to spend wisely at veteran skill positions in free agency outside of the quarterback position.

There has been much concern that Tua won’t be healthy enough to play at his full potential during his rookie season. However, with the elite receiving class in the draft, coupled with the veteran pieces in free agency, the front office can still build the receiving class around Jacoby Brissett to give him the best possible situation to fill the void next season while Tua rests, even if the two top picks have been traded away.

Brissett is a capable player that can bring the Colts into the playoffs next season, especially if the playoffs are expanding to 7 teams per conference in 2020. He’ll be completely healthy and ready to give the Colts a productive enough season to bring the Colts to the postseason.

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After that, Tua Tagovailoa will be ready to spearhead the next chapter of the Colts as the future of the franchise.