The Indianapolis Colts chose to prioritize the defense in the 2021 NFL Draft, acquiring Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles rather than trying to move up and select one of the better young quarterbacks in last year’s pool. Despite Wentz’s pedigree, this is a huge undertaking.
Frank Reich just began his fourth season in Indianapolis, and he’s started a different Week 1 quarterback in all four seasons between Wentz, Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, and Philip Rivers. Wentz was supposed to provide quality and star potential, but he has looked pedestrian to start the season off likely due to his own injuries as well as injuries to the offensive line.
He’s completing just over 60% of his passes, has a mediocre passer rating of 85.1, and has failed to win any of Indianapolis’ first three games. If he keeps playing like this, he won’t reach the level that Indy expected him to when they traded a pick that could become a first-rounder if he plays enough games.
Let’s say the Colts start to wave the white flag after a few more feckless performances, in effect handing the division to the Titans. What should they do? Give Jacob Eason starts to see what he’s made of? Get out of Wentz’s contract after the 2022 season and ensure he doesn’t get enough snaps this year to have that conditional pick turn into a first-rounder? Should they already be pondering drafting a top quarterback in next year’s draft?
Should the Colts draft a quarterback in 2022?
The 2022 class doesn’t look as strong as the last two. Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and North Carolina’s Sam Howell were expected to be the two top prospects, but they have been underwhelming at the onset of the NCAA season.
Ole Miss gunslinger Matt Corral is a bit of a wild card, and both Liberty’s Malik Willis and Nevada’s Carson Strong face questions about their level of competition.
Still, the Colts could select their franchise quarterback this year if Wentz starts to bottom out. A poor 2021 would be three straight years of largely ineffective play from Wentz, and if they continue to start him late in the season with a below .500 record, they risk losing their first-round pick to the Eagles. You can’t do that.
If the Colts decide to bench Wentz at any point this year to protect their draft capital, they’ll likely sever the relationship, meaning you can expect to see a divorce in the offseason. The other caveat here would be finding a veteran QB on the open market in next year’s free agency class to help whichever signal caller is drafted in 2022 (should that be the route the Colts take).
While Wentz hasn’t been awful this season, he hasn’t exactly given Colts fans a ton of hope of indications that he can be “the guy” in the future.
We know how stingy general manager Chris Ballard is with his draft picks and the team’s cap space. Don’t put it past him to make this drastic of a move should things start to get worse after the 0-3 start.