After Andrew Luck shocked the football world with his retirement announcement, the Indianapolis Colts are left in a tough position two weeks out from their Week 1 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. For now, it looks like Jacoby Brissett will take over the starting quarterback duties, but can he lead the Colts to the lofty expectations that the team faced just days ago?
Brissett was serviceable in 2017, totaling 3,098 yards and a 13:7 TD:INT while starting 15 games. He was also sacked a league-high 52 times that season. This is a much-improved Colts team compared to two years ago, but will the team trust Brissett to carry the weight? If not, which options are available on the trade market to replace Luck?
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Miami Dolphins
Ryan Fitzpatrick appeared in 14 games (10 starts) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the last two seasons and had a fair amount of success, combining for 3,469 yards and a 24:15 TD:INT while completing 63.6 percent of his passes. The 36-year-old started the 2018 season 2-0 with eight touchdowns and over 800 yards before losing the job when Jameis Winston returned to action.
Fitzpatrick is currently battling second-year shot-caller Josh Rosen for the starting position with the Miami Dolphins. Chances are, Miami will turn to the former first-round pick, leaving Fitzpatrick holding a clipboard on the sideline. The Dolphins aren’t expected to compete for much besides the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, so they shouldn’t be too concerned with what quarterback is under center if Rosen goes down. Fitzpatrick’s experience could actually be the Colts’ best chance at still making the playoffs.
Ryan Tannehill – Tennessee Titans
Speaking of the Dolphins, former face-of-the-franchise Ryan Tannehill is now backing up Marcus Mariota with the Tennessee Titans. The last few years of his Miami career were plagued with injuries; he missed 24 games over the last three seasons, including the entire 2017 campaign after a torn ACL in training camp. The 6-foot-4 quarterback was drafted eighth overall in 2012 and has shown flashes of being a solid starter in the NFL.
The Titans acquired Tannehill this offseason by trading a fourth-round pick, so Indianapolis would likely need to beat that price with at least a third-round selection. Tennessee could also keep him as motivation for Mariota to step up in his contract year. Still, the Colts have the draft capital to acquire him and could tap into a side of Tannehill that Miami was always looking for with a much better offensive line and plenty of weapons around him.
Case Keenum – Washington Redskins
If there’s one team with too many quarterbacks it’s the Washington Redskins. The team traded for Case Keenum before using the 15th-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to select Dwayne Haskins. There’s also Colt McCoy who started two games last year after Alex Smith suffered a potentially career-ending leg injury. Like the Dolphins, Washington isn’t expected to compete for much, so Keenum should be expendable before the season starts.
The 31-year-old lit up record books with the University of Houston but has had a largely lackluster NFL career. His one strong season came with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017 where he went 11-3 with a 22:7 TD:INT and completed over 67 percent of his passes. Keenum may not be that efficient again, but he’s shown he can produce with a decent team around him.
Blake Bortles – Los Angeles Rams
Finally, the most intriguing option, former Jacksonville Jaguars starter Blake Bortles. The 27-year-old’s five-year Jaguars tenure ranged anywhere from mediocre to straight up hard to watch. Whether it’s linked to his poor accuracy or years of Jacksonville not putting a good offense around him, Bortles never really lived up to the hype of being 2014’s third-overall pick.
Bortles isn’t going to save Indianapolis. However, if he can turn it back to 2015 where he threw 35 touchdowns and over 4,400 yards, maybe they’re a playoff team. He’s a 6-foot-5 gunslinger but with a strong offensive line, good weapons, and better coaching, maybe there’s something in there. If anyone can turn his career around, why not head coach Frank Reich?