We are heading into Week 4 of the NFL season and the Indianapolis Colts are still without franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck went through offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, and in the original report, Luck was supposed to be ready by training camp.
Well, that didn’t happen. Are head coach Chuck Pagano and owner Jim Irsay underestimating Luck’s shoulder injury, and is it actually worse than what was reported (he is supposed to practice this week)? If so, what is the best move for Luck and the Colts?
Well, you can look at this a multitude of ways. The best way might be to sit Luck for the remainder of the 2017 season, even if Luck is healthy. For the Colts, it may be best to just strip the team down and start a full rebuild. As you have witnessed, the Colts are horrible without Luck (unless they’re playing Cleveland).
I believe the best option here is to trade Luck this upcoming offseason. I know, I’m stirring the pot here, and it sounds asinine considering Luck just signed a five-year, 122.97 million dollar deal. But, with his recent injury history and the lack of talent on both sides, it’s not a crazy thought. I think there is a real possibility, especially with the quarterback talent that may be coming out in 2018. We may witness another Drew Brees debacle that ended his legacy with the San Diego Chargers (now Los Angeles) before giving an opportunity to Philip Rivers.
If the Colts even flaunt the idea of trading Luck, there are at least 13 teams that come to mind as possible destinations, but l am going to only name a few. I will break them down into 3 categories: most likely, less likely, and even less likely. This will be based on multiple factors, such as need for a QB, cap space, team make up, and if they are contenders.
Cleveland Browns: They need a bonafide franchise QB, they have $55 million (2018 cap space) available, and they have the second best offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus. They certainly are not a contender.
It is only natural to add the Browns in any talks about a quarterback on the market. This makes a lot of sense; the Browns have the most assets, can offer the best package, and they have a heap of cap space. Cleveland has an underrated defense that will improve when healthy as well as a solid offensive line. This would be a match made in heaven.
Cost: This is tough; when teams have franchise quarterbacks, they either cost too much and aren’t traded easily. At least two first round picks would be needed to get the ball rolling
Denver Broncos: They could use a QB of Luck’s caliber, they have $26.9 million (2018 cap space) available, they sported the top defense in 2016, and they boast a solid receiving core. They’re a QB away from being a Super Bowl contender again.
I put the Broncos here because they made a bold move by signing Peyton Manning in 2012 and it paid off (two Super Bowl appearances). They have a championship caliber defense and very talented offensive weapons. Despite the solid play of Trevor Siemian, he is still no Luck. I know it is a harsh assessment this early, but ask yourself: who would you rather have as starting quarterback, Siemian or Luck, when facing the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game?
Luck is als, locked in for another four years, so that takes the complications of his contract out of the equation.
Cost: DE Adam Gotsis or SS Justin Simmons, QB Trevor Siemian, 2018 first rounder, and another pick
If the Colts trade Luck, they are embracing rebuilding, so they are going to want young, talented players on cheap contracts. All three of these players can make an immediate impact and have team- friendly contracts.
Los Angeles Chargers: They need a quarterback for the future, they have $27.3 million (2018 cap space) available, they sport a solid receiving core, and they have a young, up-and-coming defense.
The Chargers need a quarterback of the future to eventually replace Philip Rivers. What makes this trade less likely is that in any trade, Rivers will need to be a part of the deal. He has a full no-trade clause in his contract, so the team will need him to waive that in order to even get the conversation started.
Cost: Philip Rivers, 2018 first-rounder, and another pick
This is a win-win situation for both teams. With the trade, both teams will still be in contention for the playoffs. The Colts add some talent and get much needed draft picks, and the Chargers get a franchise quarterback for a long time.
Even less likely:
New England Patriots: They don’t need a QB but why not look for Tom Brady’s replacement? New England has $26.3 million (2018 cap space), a solid defense, and an underrated receiving core.
This category is mostly just for fun. The possibility of the Patriots trading for Luck is pretty much zero. But, this is all speculation anyway, so why not have fun with it?
Brady isn’t getting any younger, and Jimmy Garoppolo is able to leave for free agency at season’s end. So, with no future QB set in place long-term, what should the Patriots do?
New England is such an unlikely trade partner because they are very conservative when it comes to trading for players, and they don’t really have any young, cost-friendly assets.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler and Garoppolo would have been great players to send in a trade, but they are both unrestricted free-agents in 2018. The Colts could sign them outright if they wanted to. So, it doesn’t make sense to have those pieces included in a trade.
Cost: Two first round picks to even get the conversation started
Like I said above, this is a pipe dream. The conservative nature of the Patriots and the lack of young, cost effective talent is a turn off.
All in all, this is not a popular take, but the Colts are terrible from an overall talent perspective. Luck alone can get the Colts into the AFC Championship game, but without more talent on both ends, it’s hard to see this team making the Super Bowl, regardless of how talented Luck is.