NFL

Colts QB 2022: Ranking all draft, trade, free agency and already rostered options for Indianapolis

The Indianapolis Colts thought they had their franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz, only to jettison him after one season to the Washington Commanders after trading a first and third-round pick for him. Indianapolis is restarting at quarterback again, as the Colts will have their fifth starting quarterback for Week 1 in the last five years. 

Wentz played a major role in the Colts’ collapse at the end of the season, which is what pressed owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard to hit the reset button. Indianapolis received a 2022 third-round pick and a 2023 third-round pick that can be elevated to a second-round pick if Wentz plays 70% of the snaps. Indianapolis and Washington swapped second-round picks as part of the deal (Colts have No. 42 and Commanders have No. 47). 

What do the Colts have planned at quarterback with Wentz out of the picture? The quarterback market isn’t as strong with Russell Wilson already dealt and Deshaun Watson residing in the division. Fortunately for the Colts, there are some viable options going forward. 

Free agent options

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The Colts will have to compete with a few teams for Trubisky’s services, but Indianapolis has $69.8 million in available cap space. They can sign Trubisky to a high salary and actually throw in an extra year to a contract just for immediate job security. 

Trubisky may be just a one-year option for Indianapolis, yet his development with the Buffalo Bills may be enticing enough for the Colts to give him a second shot at starting in the NFL

Winston would also be a bridge option for the Colts and he’ll have his market in free agency. Indianapolis won’t have to pay as much money to sign Winston for a season and can use the remaining cap space to improve other areas on the roster. 

Winston completed just 59% of his passes for 1,170 yards with 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions in seven starts last season, compiling a 102.8 passer rating. The improved Winston may be enough for the Colts to take a flyer on him. 

Mariota is the wild card in this equation, an enticing option for the Colts given his familiarity with the AFC South and his mobility. In the past two seasons with the Raiders, Mariota has been used as a hybrid quarterback (thrown for 230 yards and rushed for 175) in presenting a different look for defenses. 

Just 28 years old, the Colts could take a shot at Mariota on a one-year deal under the tutelage of Frank Reich. His mobility and ability to throw outside the pocket should be enticing enough for Indianapolis. 

Trade options

Garoppolo may be in the Colts’ price range, now that they have the No. 42 overall pick and the No. 73 pick (acquired from Washington) and the No. 83 pick. Giving up a second and a third-round pick may be enough to entire the San Francisco 49ers to trade Garoppolo. 

Is Garoppolo a better option than Wentz? Garoppolo completed 68.3% of his passes for 3,810 yards wit 20 touchdowns to 12 interceptions last season for a 98.7 passer rating. He’ll be coming from a run-heavy offense to another run-heavy offense, trusted to be a game manager that can make the throws necessary to extend drives. 

If Garoppolo can avoid the inconsistency issues that plagued him in San Francisco (especially in fourth quarters), he’s the best option for the Colts in 2022. 

With Aaron Rodgers back with the Green Bay Packers, Love is expendable and can be had for a reasonable price. What the Colts would have to give up for an unproven commodity for Love is uncertain, but he has completed just 36 of 62 passes (58.1%) for 411 yards with two touchdowns to three interceptions (68.7 rating) in his career (six games). 

Indianapolis shouldn’t have to give up any more than a third-round pick for Love. There are more enticing options available at the moment. 

If the Raiders were to move on from Carr given the state of the AFC West, the Colts should easily be interested. Unfortunately, the Colts gave up their 2022 first-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wentz trade. Teams will have better offers for Carr than the assets the Colts have, as a 2023 first-round pick likely won’t move the needle with other quarterback-needy teams having first-round picks this year.

As of now, Carr is a pipe dream for the Colts — unless they add good players in a trade. 

In-house option

A 2021 sixth-round pick, Ehlinger has never thrown a pass in the NFL. He’s played a grand total of 18 snaps, rushing three times for nine yards. Ehlinger will have the opportunity to compete for the Colts’ backup job, but Indianapolis needs to have a more proven option to start heading into the draft.

If not, the Colts will have to consider one of the top remaining quarterbacks in the draft. 

Draft options

Sam Howell

Since the Colts don’t have a first-round pick, perhaps Howell will slip to No. 42 and Indianapolis can select him to compete with Sam Ehlinger to compete for the starting job (Howell is ranked the No. 55 overall prospect by CBS Sports). The Colts may have to move up a bit for Howell based on where the top-three quarterbacks in the draft are drafted.

Howell would be a project and more of a 2023 option for the Colts, assuming they also land a free agent quarterback. 

Desmond Ridder

Ridder is a projected second-round pick and the No. 76 overall player in the CBS Sports rankings. If the Colts want Ridder at No. 42, there’s a good shot they can select him to compete with Ehlinger. Like Howell, Indianapolis will probably sign a free agent too — as Ridder is best suited to take over in 2023. 

Carson Strong

Strong is the No. 98 overall player on the CBS Sports draft board and could be had in the third round (Indianapolis has two third-round picks). At this point, Strong can also compete with Ehlinger — but he’s better suited for quarterback depth in 2022. 



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