With the news that Philip Rivers has retired from the NFL, who can potentially replace him as the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts? With both Rivers and backup Jacoby Brissett set to depart the franchise this offseason, which five QBs could be in contention to replace Rivers in Indianapolis?
The Colts could look to the trade market to replace Philip Rivers
With the Colts set to enter the 2021 NFL offseason with over $60 million in salary cap space, they have the luxury of being able to take on a current NFL QB contract in a trade.
Carson Wentz | Philadelphia Eagles
The departure of Doug Pederson appears to have secured Carson Wentz’s future with the Philadelphia Eagles. However, with the new head coach not known as of the time of writing, there is still a chance we see Wentz leave Philadelphia in the coming weeks. Wentz’s best performances for the Eagles came when Indianapolis Colts’ head coach Frank Reich was the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia.
The biggest sticking point for any trade with Wentz is his contract. However, one realistic option is for Wentz to be among the potential option to replace Philip Rivers. The Colts have the cap space to take on Wentz’s contract and the coach that seems to know how to get the best out of him.
Matthew Stafford | Detroit Lions
Another quarterback who could be on the move is Matthew Stafford. 2021 will be the first time that Stafford’s contract is at a point where the Lions could consider him a tradable asset. Despite having a reputation as an injury-prone QB, Stafford started all 16 games for the Lions in 2021. Between 2011 and 2018, Stafford started every regular season game for the Lions. He then missed eight games in 2019.
Stafford has an interception percentage below two over the past five seasons, while throwing for a total of 119 touchdowns and 19,133 yards. The Colts made the Wild Card Round of the 2020-2021 NFL Playoffs and likely consider themselves a contender in 2021.
Stafford would be a perfect option to replace Philip Rivers in that regard. He is a veteran QB who can make big throws and can be calm under pressure. He led four game-winning drives in the 2020 season, and averages over three per season in his career.
Who else could the Colts trade for?
Wentz and Stafford are arguably the two main trade candidates in the NFL currently. However, another name to consider is Sam Darnold. Darnold is entering his fourth-year in the league, and his future in New York is uncertain. The Colts could look to acquire Darnold immediately, then exercise the fifth-year option to give themselves two years to evaluate him.
Could the Colts find Philip Rivers replacement in-house with Jacob Eason?
According to Over The Cap, the Colts have just one quarterback on the roster currently for the 2021 season. Jacob Eason was drafted in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The former Washington Huskies quarterback did not take a single snap in the 2020 season. However, reports are that he has impressed the coaching staff and front office in Indianapolis during his rookie year in the league.
Zak Keefer of The Athletic reported that the Colts are planning as though Jacob Eason will be the QB1 for Indianapolis. Much has been made of Eason’s work ethic this past year. He has often stayed after practice with various coaches and wide receivers to run through concepts. He would also put in further work on areas like his footwork and out-of-pocket drills.
They could also consider bringing Jacoby Brissett back, as he is extremely familiar with the system. However, after Brissett was essentially replaced by Rivers, returning to Brissett could be viewed as a step backward.
Should the Colts consider bringing in a free agent QB?
The 2021 NFL free agent class at the quarterback position is somewhat bare. However, there is one superstar option, as well as some veteran options.
Could Dak Prescott be in consideration as one of the options to replace Philip Rivers?
If Dak Prescott hits free agency in 2021, it is hard to imagine any team with a QB need saying an immediate no. The Colts would be a prime landing spot for Prescott. The Colts have weapons, a solid offensive line, and a young, exciting running back.
There may be some hesitation from teams to give Prescott a big deal on the heels of his recent injury. However, the Colts have the cap space in 2021 with which to take that risk. They are one of a limited number of NFL teams that could offer Prescott a front-loaded contract in the coming offseason.
Which other free agent quarterbacks could potentially replace Philip Rivers?
The Colts do not seem like a team looking to take a chance on a Mitchell Trubisky, Jameis Winston, Dwayne Haskins-type of option. While they all have potential, they come with considerable risk. Instead, look for the Colts to consider veteran options when it comes to replacing Philip Rivers. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, or Tyrod Taylor could all be options for the Colts in 2021.
Might the Colts look for their new quarterback in the draft?
There several intriguing quarterback options for the Colts in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft class. Their current spot in the draft does not seem to facilitate a current QB option. However, they could look to trade up, trade back, or even take a QB in the mid-to-late rounds.
Could the Colts trade up for one of the “big four”?
The Colts are likely too low in the draft to be in contention for any of Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, or Trey Lance. However, they do not have many holes on their team and could therefore be a candidate to spend the capital to trade up and grab one of those options.
It is unlikely they will get anywhere close to the number one pick, but any of Fields, Wilson, or Lance could be in play.
Could the Colts drop back and target an option like Mac Jones?
Mac Jones is a QB who is in an intriguing position. Entering the 2021 Senior Bowl, Jones is viewed as a fringe first-round pick. However, at the Senior Bowl, Jones could elevate his stock and be considered a legitimate first-round talent.
It is unlikely Jones reaches a point where he is a mid-first round pick. Therefore, the Colts could likely look to trade back several spots in the first round and select Jones.
Who are some other options for the Colts in this 2021 NFL Draft?
The Colts could decide to consider other QBs that will be on show at the Senior Bowl as potential replacements for Philip Rivers. Kyle Trask is a player that has been presented as an option likely to be available in the second or third round. He has the instincts and upside to replace Philip Rivers in the NFL immediately. Additionally, he could be a player who comes in with a veteran and learns the game for a season before taking over.
Three other QBs on show at the Senior Bowl that could be an option to replace for Philip Rivers are Jamie Newman, Kellen Mond, and Ian Book. All three offer a little more in terms of their mobility than Trask. They could all make for interesting options as backups behind Jacoby Brissett if the Colts choose that route at quarterback.