Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: The Colts should acquire Matthew Stafford to boost their bright future

<p>Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers calls an audible during the first quarter of a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Jan. 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Rivers announced his retirement from the NFL on Jan. 20, leaving the Colts with a starting quarterback slot to fill.</p>

Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers calls an audible during the first quarter of a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Jan. 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Rivers announced his retirement from the NFL on Jan. 20, leaving the Colts with a starting quarterback slot to fill.

After losing in the wild card round, the Indianapolis Colts have substantial decisions ahead of them this offseason. The team is on the edge of contending for a Super Bowl, but now has coaching vacancies, and more importantly, a quarterback vacancy after starter Phillip Rivers announced his retirement Jan. 20. 

A quarterback such as Detroit Lions starter Matthew Stafford can be the final piece of the puzzle to get Indianapolis back in Super Bowl contention.

The Colts ended the 2020 regular season 11-5, their best record since 2014 when they made the AFC Championship. After facing a stout Buffalo Bills team, the Colts fell in the wild card round as the murky future became the centerpiece of the organization when an aging, struggling Rivers announced his retirement. 

After averaging 28.2 points per game last season, Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni left to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon and offensive assistant Kevin Patullo are also leaving to join Sirianni, which pushes the Colts even more in the direction of a coaching overhaul this offseason. 

One vacancy was filled after the organization promoted quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady to offensive coordinator Monday. Brady is an interesting hire for multiple reasons, the first being his quick rise after only being an assistant and quarterbacks coach under Colts head coach Frank Reich for the past three seasons.

Brady joins a relatively small group of Black offensive coordinators, becoming the fourth in the NFL. Two of the other three will face off in Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7. 

This hiring is even more intriguing because the Colts quarterback situation is unknown. Brady could have a large say in who is brought in after previously coaching and garnering high praise from former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. 

The Colts have no shortage of quarterback possibilities. The less exciting route would be sticking with what they have — backups Jacoby Brissett and Jacob Eason. This could result in more of the same for a team that has Super Bowl potential. 

In free agency, the Colts may lose big names such as Xavier Rhodes, Malik Hooker, T.Y. Hilton, Justin Houston, Marlon Mack and more. However, the Colts have the second-highest salary cap space available to sign free agents. Their No. 1 priority should be a quarterback, and the options are endless through free agency or trades. 

Highly rumored names to fill the Colts vacancy are Matthew Stafford, the Eagles’ Carson Wentz, Sam Darnold of the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints backup Jameis Winston, with slight hopes for stars like the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson.

The Colts are in a prime position to win a Super Bowl. Their defense ended the season ranked 8th in yards per game. Despite the loss of left tackle Anthony Castanzo, the Colts have a great running attack and solid weapons in the passing game returning, especially if Parris Campbell is healthy enough to pair with the rising Michael Pittman. 

Stafford can win a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts. The 32-year-old quarterback was the No.1 pick in 2009, but hasn’t won a playoff game in 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions. Although he is not on the same level as Andrew Luck, he doesn’t need to be to get this team to the next level. Stafford is a massive upgrade compared to Rivers and could be the final piece to this Colts puzzle.

The Colts would likely have to offer multiple draft picks via a trade to obtain the Lions quarterback. Stafford being vocal about wanting to be traded is helpful, and he only carries $43 million left on a two-year contract, which is a great price for a quarterback of his caliber. 

Indianapolis needs a left tackle, cornerback and edge rushers, but this is where the second-highest cap space in the NFL comes into play. However, even if the Colts are able to fill all those needs, they need to go all-in for Stafford to put them over the top.

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