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The Indianapolis Colts have been a staple in the AFC playoffs over the last 22 seasons, making it to the NFL’s “second season” 16 times.
In 2020, the 11-5 Colts were again playoff bound, losing to the Buffalo Bills 27-24 in a highly competitive AFC Wild Card game.
Now with the offseason in front of them, the Colts will face a massive question mark: who will play quarterback?
Philip Rivers announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending his one-year run with Indianapolis which paid him a handsome $25 million.
With Rivers gone, the team has just two QBs on the roster, Jacoby Brissett and Jacob Eason.
There’s no doubt the Colts will look to free agency and the draft to add a quarterback, and they will hope that whoever they add can make an impact.
One good thing that the Colts have going for them is the amount of salary cap space they will have to work with this offseason.
The club is projected to have nearly $66 million in available space under the 2021 salary cap, assuming that the NFL base cap will be $176 million for each team.
A lot of that money might have to go to a pair of high-profile offensive free agents: Brissett, who made $15 million as a backup last year, and wideout T.Y. Hilton, who was paid $13 million in 2020.
One would think the quarterback decision will determine whether the team brings Brissett back or not.
At 32, Hilton will need to find some common ground with team regarding his worth. Last season, Hilton caught five scores to go along with 762 yards and 56 catches.
Here’s a complete list of all free agents as well as a couple restricted free agents for the Colts to consider as they enter the offseason:
Jacoby Brissett, quarterback.
Malik Hooker, safety.
Le’Raven Clark, offensive tackle.
T.J. Carrie, cornerback.
Trey Burton, tight end.
Al-Quadin Muhammad, defensive end.
George Odum, safety (*RFA)
Zach Pascal, wide receiver (*RFA)
Marlon Mack, running back
T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver
Chaz Green, offensive tackle
Joey Hunt, center
Justin Houston, defensive end
Denico Autry, defensive end
Anthony Walker, linebacker
Xavier Rhodes, cornerback
Tavon Wilson, safety
Offseason Outlook: With Rivers now off the roster and off the books, the Colts have a big mission ahead of them – find a quarterback.
Brissett isn’t going to come cheap if he comes back at all, and he might not want to return to Indy after the team went from having him as their starter to having him hold a clipboard.
Eason clearly isn’t ready, which means they’ll need to turn to free agency to find a starter at the biggest position on the team.
There’s a list of big names the team has to look at bringing back, including Hooker, Carrie, Mack, Hilton, Houston and Rhodes.
The cap space the team has is going to help, and while they likely will have to spend quite a bit to land a quarterback in free agency, they probably won’t have to pay him $25 mil a season, which is what Rivers made in his one year with the Colts.
This organization always seems to find a way to retool and restock the roster, so look for GM Chris Ballard and his front office crew to find a way to field a competitive team once again in 2021.