The Colts are entering 2020 with a very important decision on their hands: What will happen with Jacoby Brissett? Here are the Colts’ best options moving forward with the QB.
Less than one year ago, the Colts were committed to Jacoby Brissett as their future quarterback. Now, the team has signed Phillip Rivers and will possibly select a QB in the draft, as well, putting Brissett in an odd position.
He will be a $21.4 million cap hit going into 2020. That, combined with Rivers’ $25 million cap hit and a hit anywhere from $1 million to 6 or 7 if the Colts decide to select a QB as early as possible in the NFL Draft next week. This could make Brissett the 3rd quarterback on the depth chart, which is a crazy thought considering his position last year.
Add to the fact that Brissett reportedly wasn’t happy with the Rivers decision in free agency, it’s clear that the Colts need to make a quick decision about the future of the NC State product. Let’s assess a few options that the Colts can exercise with Brissett moving forward.
1. Release Brissett
It’s certainly an odd thing to suggest mere months after the Colts ended their season with Brissett at the helm. However, it’s probably the best move for the front office. It’s been pretty clear since the end of the season in February that the team isn’t completely sold on him as the future at the QB position.
"“The jury is still out,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said during his season-ending news conference (January 30th). “That’s why we did the short-term deal with Jacoby. One, to give us some security that we had a player we knew we liked and could go forward with. But also, two, to give us time to figure out if he is the guy or not.”"
Brissett’s 18 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and 2,942 yards simply aren’t good enough for the Colts if the team is to immediately contend for a Super Bowl in 2020. With Rivers already signed on the roster and a potential successor to him coming in the draft, Brissett and his large contract are the odd men out in this scenario.
If the Colts were to release him, they’d save $8.9 million in cap space. This would give the team some breathing room to make a decision on Rivers next year or to help extend some of the team’s key players that are due for extensions or new contracts in the 2021 offseason. It also allows the team to sign some depth players towards the beginning of the season if injuries occur during training camp.
The Colts front office isn’t sold on Brissett as a starting quarterback anymore and his contract is too large for a backup role, so it’s the easiest way for the Colts to move on from Brissett, all while saving some money in the process.
2. Trade Brissett
Free agency would most likely be the best option for the Colts to quickly and easily get rid of Brissett and to save a bit of cap room. If the front office were to look and trade Brissett, it opens the door to get a return for him via another team.
It also opens the door for the team to save even more money if they were to trade him. According to OverTheCap, if the Colts were to trade Brissett before June 1st, they would save almost $16 million in cap space, as well as only having $5 million in dead cap in 2020. It’s a great option for the team if they are sold on letting Brissett go and find the right suitor for him in order to return the biggest haul.
This is the best move for the team if they can find the perfect suitor. The New England Patriots (Brissett’s former team) and the LA Chargers make sense as the best options for a trade if the deal is right due to their respective positions at QB.
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If the Patriots choose to look for a player to either compete or start over Jarrett Stidham, then they become a great option for the Colts. They hold a fourth-round pick, as well as three third-round picks that the Colts can work within a trade. Similarly with the Chargers, if they don’t feel that Tyrod Taylor is the best option for them at QB, Brissett could be a good option to replace him.
The Chargers, however, hold the 6th overall pick and are linked to QBs Justin Herbert and Jordan Love at that spot, so it’s possible that the Chargers will look at either Herbert or Love instead of trading for a player with NFL experience like Brissett.
Either way, if the Colts look to trade Brissett, it’d be the best option for the team, considering the amount of money they’d save in comparison to letting him walk in free agency.
3. Keep Brissett in 2020…as a gadget player?
Despite everything, the Colts consider Brissett a special player and one they respect. As a team captain and leader in 2019, he led the team to a hot 5-2 start before the many factors that led to his regression set in. After everything, it’s still uncertain whether or not Brissett will be on the roster moving forward, but HC Frank Reich has expressed his praise for the 27-year-old on the type of player he is for the team.
"“We think Jacoby has some unique gifts in that way,” Reich said in an IndyStar report. “Everybody knows who Jacoby is, he is not Lamar Jackson as far as speed, but Jacoby is tough to bring down. So there are situations on the field and circumstances that we have a lot of trust in Jacoby. We were really good in a couple areas last year on offense. I don’t want to go into these in-depth, but there were a couple situational-football areas that we were really good at.”"
If Brissett remains on the roster next season but not as the starting QB, where does that put him in terms of playing time?
It’s possible that he becomes more of a gadget/situational player for Reich and the offense. Brissett was a great player in short-yardage conversions on third and fourth down. He completed 76% of his passes for 19 first downs and 3 touchdowns, all the while posting a 132.0 QBR. He also picked up 10 first downs on 11 carries in the same situation.
Brissett being the more mobile and run-friendly in comparison to Rivers (who didn’t run a sneak play all season in 2019) could lead him to be a great short-yardage producer for the Colts next season.
"“Nick (Sirianni) and I have already been talking about this – about what does it look like if Jacoby plays five plays a game, seven plays a game?” Reich said March 30th. “We are certainly talking about that, open to that and we will keep all options open. Whatever we have to do to win.”"
It’s entirely possible that Brissett becomes the Indianapolis version of New Orleans’ Taysom Hill. Although not nearly as athletic as Hill, Brissett’s above-average skills in short-yardage and sneak situations could be of great use to the Colts moving forward into 2020.