General manager Chris Ballard basically said as much in his season-ending news conference when he said the jury is still out on Brissett after the quarterback finished 29th in the NFL in passing at 196.1 yards a game.
“Anytime we have a chance to acquire a player that makes us better, at any position, we’re going to do it. Any position,” the general manager said. “Whether it’s wideout, quarterback, running back, linebacker -- it doesn’t matter. So, I wouldn’t just single out the quarterback. Any chance we have to get better, we’re going to do it.”
Free agency is weeks away and there are some future Hall of Fame quarterbacks who could be on the market.
Those are the headliners of the group. Other notable free-agent quarterbacks are Ryan Tannehill -- who has earned himself a nice payday after replacing Marcus Mariota and leading the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship Game -- Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston and Mariota.
Who wouldn’t want Brady, Brees or Rivers as their quarterback?
The issue is all those quarterbacks are in the decline of their playing careers. Brady is 42 and Brees is 41. Pursing them would also go against the mold that Ballard has consistently talked about when pursuing outside free agents. He prefers younger players who have yet to hit the prime of the careers.
Rivers, 38, continues to be mentioned as a possibility for the Colts because of the connection he has with Indianapolis coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni. All three were together with the Chargers. But Rivers isn't a great fit in Reich’s offensive scheme and Reich was fired as offensive coordinator of the Chargers after the 2015 season.
Bridgewater, a former first-round pick who has overcome a career-threatening leg injury that derailed his career in Minnesota, fits Ballard's criteria because he’s only 27, and he went 5-0 as a starter in place of the injured Brees this season with the Saints. Bridgewater, however, could come at a steep price tag.
Already on the roster are Brian Hoyer, who played about six quarters for the injured Brissett in November, and fan favorite Chad Kelly. Hoyer, who turns 35 next season, is a true backup at this point of his career.
Kelly, who dealt with off-the-field problems in college at Clemson and with the Denver Broncos, isn’t looked at as a threat to Brissett at this point. Ballard was on Indianapolis radio station WFNI recently and said Kelly still has to earn the organization’s trust.
“I’m not talking on the field. I’m talking off the field,” Ballard said. “He had screwed up a few times to where, ‘We are your last shot here, son. So we are going to have some guidelines here about what you have to do and you have to earn trust.'"
In four preseason games, Kelly completed 74 percent of his passes (54 of 73) for 583 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Ballard continues to be adamant about building through the draft, so selecting a quarterback to challenge Brissett to be the team’s franchise quarterback is a possibility. LSU’s Joe Burrow isn’t a likely candidate because the Cincinnati Bengals have the No. 1 overall pick and need a franchise quarterback. They are the odds-on favorite to select the Heisman Trophy winner, an Ohio native. The Colts likely would have to trade up from the 13th spot to select Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Utah State quarterback Jordan Love are also possible first-round picks.
“Every year we focus on them,” Ballard said about college quarterbacks. “We’ve studied them every year since I’ve been here. I learned this in Kansas City; we always go through the process of studying quarterbacks. One, because you never know when you’re going to be looking one in the face, so you just take him. Two, because you gotta play against them. So you want to be able to interview them, study them and at least know some history and background when they enter the league. So I don’t know if the process will be any different than it has been for us.”
It won't be surprising if the Colts add a quarterback to the roster to push Brissett. It's just a matter of how they go about doing it.