ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Sunday that although recovery on Luck's surgically repaired right shoulder is going well, the quarterback hasn’t thrown a ball yet, and there’s a possibility that he could have another surgery that would sideline him an additional three to six months if he continues to have pain. The decision on that, according to Mortensen, won’t be determined until some point in January.
Mortensen's report comes days after Irsay told NFL Network that "no additional surgery at this point [is] planned" for Luck.
"He's doing great," Irsay told NFL Network. "He's doing well. [We're] disappointed, obviously, it's taken as long as it's taken. You know, medicine and the way it goes. But there hasn't been any unusual setback. We didn't find out anything ominous, something we didn't know about or anything like that. It's just taken time for him to go through his whole aspect of rehabbing and progressing and working through the soreness."
The Colts (3-11), unfortunately, can’t sit around and wait to see if Luck will be healthy for the start next season. They tried that approach this season, and while they were able to acquire Jacoby Brissett, they didn’t make the move until a week before the start of the regular season. They’re on their way to their worst finish since going 2-14 in 2011.
They must explore all quarterback options, including continuing to evaluate Brissett, looking at free agency and possibly using their first-round pick on a quarterback.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way for the Colts, who are potentially at a crossroads with Luck -- the player Irsay gave a $140 million contract to in the summer of 2016.
Selecting a quarterback in the first round -- possibly UCLA’s Josh Rosen or USC’s Sam Darnold -- would prevent them from taking a potentially elite pass-rusher like NC State's Bradley Chubb in the first. The Colts, who are currently slated to pick No. 3, desperately need a legitimate pass-rush threat on a defense that has continually finished near the bottom of the NFL under coach Chuck Pagano.
General manager Chris Ballard and the Colts are very high on Brissett, who has done his best to handle what has been a tough situation. It’s key that he continues to develop because there’s basically no chance for any team to have success without solid quarterback play.
All eyes will be on Luck when he returns from Europe because the direction of the franchise hinges on how his throwing sessions go and how his shoulder holds up through the process. But unfortunately for Ballard and his staff, they have to brace themselves for the possibility of the worst outcome for their franchise player.