NFL Props: Who Will Play Quarterback for the Colts in 2021?

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Colts Quarterback

On Wednesday, former Chargers and Colts quarterback Philip Rivers officially announced his retirement from the NFL. It was announced that Rivers would be the coach-in-waiting at St. Michael Catholic High School last May, so the timing of his announcement is hardly a surprise.

The Indianapolis Colts signed Rivers last offseason after he spent the first 16 seasons of his career with the Chargers. Indy had hoped that Rivers would be a solid replacement for Andrew Luck, who suddenly retired himself prior to the 2019 season. While Rivers was able to lead the Colts to a playoff berth in his lone season in town, Indianapolis ultimately fell short of their goal to win a Super Bowl.

The 39-year-old Rivers was always going to be a Band-Aid for the Colts at this stage of his career rather than Luck’s long-term successor at the position. Rivers became the second big-name Colt to retire this offseason after longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo hung up his cleats just last week. While losing both players will hurt, Indy still has a solid roster with a respected coaching staff capable of competing for Super Bowls on an annual basis.

So, don’t expect the Colts to retreat into rebuild mode now that Rivers is out of the picture. Indy should be looking to bring in a replacement capable of helping the team contend for a division title again in 2021. Backup Jacoby Brissett is currently listed as the odds-on favorite to be the Colts’ QB1 when next season begins, but don’t be surprised if the team takes an aggressive approach to addressing the newly-vacated position.

BetOnline is already taking bets on who will be the Colts’ starter when Week 1 of next season rolls around.

Which candidate is the best bet?

Jacoby Brissett (+300)

Shortly after Luck shocked the world with his retirement announcement just before the 2019 campaign, the Colts quickly pivoted to Brissett. Brissett had shown some potential as Luck’s injury replacement in previous years, and the Colts decided to sign their new starter to a lucrative contract extension. However, that contract just expired, which means Brissett is now a free agent.

Jacoby Brissett

Brissett is an obvious choice to be Rivers’ replacement given his familiarity with Frank Reich’s system. Reich has reportedly never lost faith in Brissett’s ability to be a starter in the NFL, but the team did just opt to sign an aging Rivers to replace him last year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Brissett returned to Indy, especially considering it’s no guarantee that any better QB becomes available this offseason.

At +300, Brissett looks like a very reasonable bet to return as the Colts’ starter ahead of next season.

Carson Wentz (+400)

The Eagles fired Doug Pederson after their season ended, which led to speculation that Carson Wentz will remain with the team next season. Wentz was benched in favor of Jalen Hurts last year after struggling to the worst season of his career. Rather than bailing on Wentz, though, Philly decided to ax Pederson.

Wentz was terrible in 2020, but it’s hard to imagine that he can’t rediscover his old form. He’s still only 28, and playing behind the Colts’ stout offensive line would surely help him improve upon last year’s dismal showing. That said, it’s incredibly difficult for the Eagles to get rid of his massive contract. Simply releasing Wentz would mean the Philadelphia Eagles would have to eat over $59 million worth of dead money against the salary cap. Keeping him would be a hap hit of about $34 million. Even if he doesn’t play, it’s more worth it for the Eagles to keep him than to release him.

Philadelphia would also have to eat about $33 million in dead money next season if he were traded. The cap logistics are complicated given Wentz’ huge deal, but players on contracts like that simply don’t get traded. To this point, the most in dead money a team has ever eaten via trade is the New Orleans Saints, who lit $12 million on fire to trade Brandin Cooks several years ago. It’s possible that the Eagles trade him just to get him out of town, but there’s almost no way it actually comes to pass.

As a result, I’m out on Wentz as an option for the Colts at +400.

Matthew Stafford (+500)

The Lions just hired a new head coach in Dan Campbell, who has promised to bring a hard-nosed approach to Detroit from New Orleans. Where have we heard that before? Ah, yes. Matt Patricia promised to do the same thing when he came to the Lions from the Patriots a couple of seasons ago. We know how well that worked out.

Matthew Stafford

There has been some talk that the Lions could look to move on from the 32-year-old Matthew Stafford this offseason. While Stafford has put together a nice career with the Lions, the team hasn’t actually won anything of merit. Detroit has made three playoff appearances during the Stafford era, and they are still in search of their first postseason win in that span.

The Detroit Lions have the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft, and it’s possible that they look to nab a new QB with a new coach and GM in town. Stafford has a base salary of only $9 million next year, which makes him quite a bit easier to trade than Wentz. Indianapolis is armed with tons of cap space as well as the 21st overall pick in the draft. If they want to make a deal, the Colts have enough ammo to pull the trigger.

Stafford isn’t getting any younger, but he is still a more viable long-term option for the Colts than Rivers was at this time a year ago. There’s plenty of logic to this one for both sides, which makes Stafford a pretty appealing bet at the current +500 odds.

Andy Dalton (+600)

Andy Dalton left Cincinnati for the Dallas Cowboys last offseason, where he was expected to serve as the backup for Dak Prescott. However, Dalton was pressed into duty when Prescott broke his leg early in the season. Dalton dealt with some injury issues of his own, though, and he wound up struggling in what was a lost year for the Cowboys.

Dalton is a free agent again this offseason. The Texas native may be willing to take a discount to return to Dallas if the Cowboys come calling, but what if the Colts offer a starting gig? Dalton completed about 65 percent of his throws for 2,170 yards with 14 touchdowns to eight interceptions with the ‘Boys last season. Dalton should fetch a solid deal on the market once again, but I’m skeptical that a team will be looking to bring him in to start at this stage of his career.

Dalton didn’t exactly light it up last season despite having a solid group of weapons with which to work in Dallas. Dalton could come to Indy as a backup, but I doubt he’ll be the QB1.

Jacob Eason (+700)

Jacob Eason was the Colts’ third-string QB last season behind Rivers and Brissett. Indianapolis could always promote the former fourth-round pick, but the Colts are a team looking to capitalize on their current Super Bowl window. Eason had some success at the University of Washington in college, but he didn’t enter the NFL as a particularly highly-rated prospect.

The only way Eason is the Colts’ starter in Week 1 of 2021 is if their actual starter gets hurt in the preseason or training camp.

The likelihood that he’ll be on Indy’s roster makes him a passable flier bet at the +700 odds, but I don’t want to endorse him as a betting option if we’re having to bank on the actual starter getting hurt.

Brian Hoyer (+1000)

Brian Hoyer is a well-traveled backup in the NFL that has spent time with the Colts in the past. Hoyer spent this past season with the Patriots, but he was Brissett’s primary backup with Indianapolis two years ago. Hoyer wound up playing four games that year with middling results.
The 35-year-old may find a home as a backup this offseason, but your franchise is in a bad place if you’re leaning on this guy to be your No. 1 QB. Pass on Hoyer starting for the Colts at +1000.

Any Rookie (+1200)

As mentioned, the Colts will have the 21st pick in the upcoming draft. This draft class has Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields at the top, but the QBs are fairly questionable once you get past those two. BYU’s Zach Wilson is unlikely to fall all the way to the Colts at 21. Trey Lance is a potential option, as is Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder if he finds his way into the first round.

It remains to be seen whether any rookie other than Lawrence begins next season as an NFL starter. Fields and Wilson will be long gone by the time the Colts’ pick comes up, barring a trade. We don’t see many rookies beyond the very top prospects in the class starting in the NFL from day one. While I think a rookie is more likely to be the Colts’ QB than someone like Hoyer or Dalton, this bet is still worth little more than a flier at +1200.

Chase Daniel (+1200)

Speaking of well-traveled backups, Chase Daniel has made a nice career for himself despite rarely seeing the field. Daniel has made $34 million in career earnings in the NFL despite the fact that he has never thrown more than 76 passes in a single season. It’s a nice life if you can get it.

Daniel played in four games last season as the backup to Stafford in Detroit. Now 34, it’s fair to assume that Daniel has missed his chance to sign with a team to become their long-term answer at the position. Daniel has a base salary of $4 million for next season, but the Lions can either trade or release him pretty easily.

Daniel is another candidate to land with the Colts as a backup, but Indy won’t be trusting him to lead them into the future.

Jameis Winston (+1400)

Jameis Winston led the NFL in passing two years ago, but his free agent market was rather tepid. He wound up settling for a one-year deal with the Saints. Winston played sparingly in his lone season with the New Orleans Saints, and Sean Payton wound up resorting to Taysom Hill as the backup to Drew Brees when Brees was injured in the middle of the season. Obviously, that doesn’t bode well for Jameis’ future with the Saints.

Jacoby Brissett

Brees may retire this offseason, but the Saints still have plenty of money committed to Hill. New Orleans could keep both, but Winston is clearly the more likely of the two to depart the Big Easy this offseason. Winston has had his fair share of ups-and-downs in this league, but he has shown the ability to put up decent numbers as a starter.

Winston may be a questionable fit in the Colts’ offense, and the fact that he couldn’t even beat out Hill for the Saints’ backup job may not bode well for his market again this offseason. Still, it’s not impossible to think he makes his way to Indy to fight for a starting job. Taking a stab at the +1400 odds on Winston to be the Colts’ starter next season is a cheap bet capable of paying off in a big way.

Deshaun Watson (+1600)

Deshaun Watson may have played his final snap as a member of the Houston Texans. Many believe the Texans will trade their disgruntled QB this offseason. Houston has made some laughably bad trades over the past couple of years, but even this team can’t be dumb enough to trade a player of Watson’s caliber to a divisional rival. As much as Colts fans would love to see Watson in royal blue next season, even the Texans won’t make a mistake this self-defeating.

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...

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