No matter. Nothing’s labored.
This group’s finest reply for 2023 rests in its ever-improving draft place, and everybody is aware of it. The excellent news, on that entrance: The Colts’ late-season collapse has moved up their first-round decide by 9 spots during the last month, and there’s an opportunity it climbs much more within the coming weeks. That’ll matter an entire lot come late April.
With Colts slated to pick No. 6, let’s examine who their options might be in the draft
For now, what occurs on the sector over the following two weeks gained’t — and shouldn’t — have any bearing on what this group decides to do on the place. This season has been misplaced for months, and at this level, the gamers appear prepared for it to be over. Surely, this group’s top-decision makers have seen sufficient to know the reply for subsequent season (and past) isn’t on this roster.
It’s not Matt Ryan.
It’s not Nick Foles.
And it’s (most definitely) not Sam Ehlinger.
None of the three quarterbacks has completed sufficient this season to earn the beginning job come subsequent fall: Ryan’s been benched twice, Ehlinger’s two-game audition ended after one of many worst offensive performances by the franchise in a quarter-century, and Foles’ debut Monday night time in opposition to the Chargers was abysmal from begin to end: no touchdowns, not a single third-down conversion all sport lengthy, and three drive-killing interceptions.
No, the reply isn’t right here.
“At the quarterback position, you’re responsible for the product on the field,” Ehlinger mentioned earlier this week. “And I think we all take that very seriously. … Unfortunately, this year, we haven’t found it.”
Unlike the final two instances the Colts eyed a quarterback with their first-round decide, there isn’t a transparent path ahead, no apparent alternative sitting there for the taking. That will make this course of far harder, as a result of even when the group goes QB with its first decide, it’s not a certainty he’ll begin from Day 1. Peyton Manning made that simple. Andrew Luck, too.
This is completely different. This would require persistence. And it’s going to require an alternative choice, maybe for a number of video games, maybe for a complete season.
Who stays? Who goes?
That’s what the Colts have to determine. Financials will play a task as this group kinds out the mess it’s made. Same because it was final season, this yr’s disappointment isn’t all on the quarterback, however the place held this group again tremendously in 2022, and the franchise isn’t going anyplace till it’s addressed.
Here’s what to know:
Matt Ryan: 37 years outdated, 15 seasons, $269 million in profession earnings
The wager the Colts made once they acquired Ryan in a commerce with the Falcons final spring backfired — and the price is substantial. Indianapolis truly restructured Ryan’s deal after the transfer, pushing a few of the ensures again to 2023, assured this is able to be a two-year marriage on the very least. After the draft, proprietor Jim Irsay, bear in mind, was overtly speaking about him being right here three or 4 years.
Ryan was benched earlier than Week 7, returned to the beginning lineup in Week 9, then was benched once more final week. Barring an unexpected change, he’ll end the yr as a wholesome scratch for the ultimate two video games of the season.
The QB made $24.7 million this season. If Ryan performs for the Colts in 2023, his wage can be $29.2 million.
The drawback now, after Ryan’s underwhelming yr is that if the Colts release him after the season — which they’d should do earlier than March 17, when some ensures kick in — he’ll rely $18 million in opposition to the wage cap with out ever taking part in a down. That’s a major useless cap hit.
But that transfer would save the group roughly $17.2 million, as a result of if Ryan stays on the roster, his cap hit is gigantic at $35 million. That’s not a wage you pay an getting older, backup quarterback; it’s one you pay an elite starter. That $35 million can be roughly 15 p.c of the Colts’ total wage cap subsequent season, relying on the place the league finally ends up setting the quantity.
The best-case situation for the Colts, assuming they don’t have an curiosity in bringing Ryan again because the starter? He retires. That’d depart the group on the hook for simply $6 million in useless cash, much better than the $35 million if he stays or the $18 million if he’s launched.
Nick Foles: 33 years outdated, 11 seasons, $82 million in profession earnings
Foles — in contrast to Ryan — comes with a much more manageable wage hit come 2023, whether or not he begins a number of video games earlier than giving approach to a rookie or serves as a backup for the whole season.
Foles signed a two-year take care of the Colts within the spring for a complete of $6 million, $4 million of which is totally assured. If he stays, he’ll rely simply $3.6 million in opposition to the 2023 wage cap, a completely manageable sum for a backup quarterback; releasing him would price the Colts simply $1.5 million in useless cap cash.
But does Foles even wish to return? He’s been adamant since he arrived why he landed in Indianapolis — “I’m here because of Frank Reich,” he advised me a month in the past — and Reich’s absence will weigh closely into Foles’ resolution. Also, after the Colts’ loss to the Chargers on Monday night time, Foles admitted he by no means even anticipated to play this season, nor was he pining to.
Nick Foles’ start the latest wart in Colts’ ugly season: ‘He never expected to play’
Here’s his response when requested if he was desperate to get on the sector in 2023.
“When I came here, this was Matt Ryan’s team, and I still think Matt’s a tremendous player,” Foles mentioned. “I think the world of Matt. So, the answer is no. … I was never champing at the bit because I was there to support Matt, and I wanted Matt to succeed.”
Does that sound like a participant anxious to return to this group subsequent fall? Not precisely.
A retirement from Foles wouldn’t shock me within the least.
Sam Ehlinger: 24 years outdated, two seasons, $709,037 in profession earnings
Ehlinger is likely to be the most definitely QB to stay on the roster for subsequent season, on account of each his age and his wage. The scenario Ehlinger walked into in Week 7 wasn’t only a shock to everybody else — it was a shock to him, too. I had an extended dialog with Ehlinger again in coaching camp, again when he was firmly entrenched because the third quarterback on the depth chart, and he had no grand illusions of unseating Ryan or Foles this season. His aim then was to be taught from the extra skilled QBs within the room.
Here’s what he mentioned late Monday night time, after the Colts’ 20-3 loss to the Chargers, when requested if he thought he was going to play this season.
“No, no,” he mentioned. “I expected another year to develop, and to learn from Matt and Nick. I don’t think anybody expected any of this.”
Neither did we.
That was Ehlinger’s strategy at the beginning of coaching camp, and bear in mind, he wasn’t even a lock to make the preliminary 53-man roster (most groups, together with the Colts over time, solely maintain two quarterbacks on the lively roster). But after an encouraging preseason wherein he made noticeable enhancements, Ehlinger made the group.
He spent the spring starting a three-year course of with QB guru Tom House designed to enhance his velocity, one of many largest knocks he confronted popping out of Texas in 2021.
Ehlinger then abruptly was thrust into the lineup in Week 7, requested to step in for Ryan in opposition to the Commanders. He was first rate in his debut, not nice however definitely not horrible, ending 17-for-23 for no touchdowns and no interceptions in a sport wherein the Colts blew a nine-point fourth-quarter lead. But the next week he was dreadful, identical with everybody else: Ehlinger and the offense couldn’t transfer the ball, couldn’t defend (he was sacked 9 instances) and couldn’t convert a single third down (they completed 0-for-14). The 121 yards of offense the Colts completed with was the franchise’s lowest in a quarter-century.
Reich was fired a day later. And seven days later, Ehlinger headed again to the bench, changed by Ryan. He hasn’t seen the sector since.
At the very least, Ehlinger figures to have a shot to compete for a task in coaching camp.
(Photo: Michael Hickey / Getty Images)