By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The tenure of Ryan Grigson as general manager of the Indianapolis Colts should be remembered for two reasons and two reasons only. First and foremost, he complained to the league with some bogus ball deflation excuse, thus creating the most obnoxious, over-the-top, never-ending sports saga of the 21st century (and also showing the world what a true bootlicking statement looks like).
Secondly, Grigson should be remembered for ruining the career of Andrew Luck, the most surefire quarterback prospect of the past 15 years, who was forced to retire at age 29 because his team failed to protect him. Grigson played the biggest role in that. (Well, also snowboarding. But that’s neither here nor there.)
And now, even though Grigson was fired two years ago, the former GM’s failings have left the Colts’ quarterback depth chart looking like this, with just under two weeks until the regular season begins:
QB1: Jacoby Brissett
QB2: Chad Kelly
QB3: Phillip Walker
That last name on that list represents the all-time leading passer in the history of … Temple football. Which is neat. The second name is well-known, though not for anything he’s done on an NFL field. (He doesn’t even have an official photo on the team website.) And the first name, of course, belongs to an NFL starting quarterback, technically speaking, but also an NFL starting quarterback who’s lost 12 of the 17 games he’s started.
Any way you look at it, the quarterback situation is not great for the Indianapolis Colts. They’re likely going to need to find some help — and fast.
The problem for the Colts will be that, well, most teams aren’t exactly flush with talent at the quarterback position to begin with. Most teams fight for years to get themselves a No. 1 quarterback, at which point they dedicate dozens of millions of dollars just to keep that player, even if he’s unexceptional. (No offense intended to Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Eli Manning.)
The best example of this struggle can be found in the fact that Case Keenum was just named the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins, for crying out loud. Case Keenum!
So, if the Colts want to add a quarterback who can step right in and become a starter, that’s really not going to happen. The job belongs to Brissett, at least for the first few weeks of the season.
But when it comes to bolstering the overall strength of that quarterback room, there’s no doubt at all that an upgrade is needed.
In that regard, the Colts would struggle to do much better than landing Brian Hoyer.
Granted, Hoyer’s no Peyton Manning. But he’s likely to be the best option available, if the Patriots are indeed willing to part ways with the veteran as their backup. Certainly, rookie Jarrett Stidham has appeared to be a capable NFL backup thus far. So if the Patriots trust Stidham in 2019 the same way they trusted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014, they could afford to either release or trade away Hoyer before the end of the week.
The Colts could wait to see if Hoyer gets cut, but they’d also risk missing out on the QB signing elsewhere. Acquiring Hoyer via trade this week would be the surest way to secure the services of a bona fide NFL quarterback.
Hoyer, 33, has played in 65 NFL games and has started 37 of them. His overall win-loss record of 16-21 is far from inspiring, but he did go 10-6 as the starting quarterback of the Browns in 2013 and 2014; the Browns went 1-15 in those two seasons in games not started by Hoyer. He’s barely played at all since returning to New England late in the 2017 season, but he did perform rather well in 2015 and 2016, which were his last two seasons of regular game action. For the Texans and Bears, Hoyer completed 62.9 percent of his passes, averaging 7.1 yards per attempt and throwing 25 touchdowns to just seven interceptions.
Considering Brissett has thrown 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions in his entire career, it would make sense for the Colts to pursue Hoyer. The veteran would immediately provide a much better option as a backup, and he’d likely be pushing Brissett for starting reps within a few weeks.
Likewise, if the Patriots are willing and ready to move on from Hoyer this week, the price tag on the QB should not be exorbitant. The Colts should be able to add a decent NFL quarterback for something like a mid-round pick.
In terms of other options, the blog Colts Wire threw out the names of Nate Sudfeld (who broke his wrist two weeks ago), Kyle Lauletta and Chase Litton. With a quarterback room already lacking experience, none of those names would likely help the Colts in 2019.
For what it’s worth, Hoyer’s also looked like he’s ready to contribute. In two preseason games this summer, Hoyer has gone 18-for-22 (81.8%) for 202 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Ultimately, Hoyer’s potential availability depends entirely on the Patriots’ willingness to carry only a rookie to serve as a safety net for 42-year-old Tom Brady. If Bill Belichick is indeed comfortable with that arrangement, the Colts could represent the best opportunity for the Patriots to pick up an asset. And if there’s one thing Belichick enjoys as much as winning Super Bowls, it’s collecting assets.