During what has turned out to be a very eventful week of football news, the Indianapolis Colts traded Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders on Wednesday. The Colts are not getting much back for Wentz, and it's clear they just wanted to be rid of the former No. 2 overall pick. They come out in the red after their trade for Wentz last offseason, and we can now declare, without question, it was a resounding failure.
Indianapolis is now in a tough spot. The Colts don't have a first-round pick in this year's draft because of Wentz. and Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers are officially off the board. They picked Sam Ehlinger in last year's draft but it's hard to expect much from a sixth-round pick going into his second season. There is no obvious successor to Wentz in sight.
The Colts have a great defense and an All-Pro running back in Jonathan Taylor, but their receiving corps leaves something to be desired. A mediocre quarterback could lead the team to the playoffs, but championship contention will be hard to reach between how difficult the conference now is and the lack of top-end quarterbacks available.
When the Wentz rumors first arose, we took a look at possible replacements for him. Now that the trade is official, and with the context of the other huge moves made since, let's revisit the idea and see who the Colts could target to become their fifth starter in five years.
At this point, nobody is more desperate for a quarterback than the Colts, and the Niners could take advantage of that. Jimmy Garoppolo is likely to be traded this offseason and Indy should be on the phone with John Lynch right now to see if it can pry the veteran away from the Bay Area. He'd be a great fit. Wentz actually played pretty well for most of the season in 2021 under Frank Reich and he could elevate Jimmy G's game to a similar level, even with roughly the same amount of boneheaded turnovers expected every Sunday. With Taylor back there to be the engine of the offense, Garoppolo would just need to keep the offense on track, which he proved to be capable of with the Niners. The two front offices are familiar with each other, as they made a blockbuster agreement only one year ago with the DeForest Buckner trade.
The problem is that San Francisco will want a good return for Garoppolo and the Colts do not have many draft assets after all the trading they've done in the last 12 months. If the Niners set the price for Garoppolo at a first-round pick, the Colts are out. But if they're open to negotiation, Jimmy G could head back to the Midwest.
Jameis Winston is going to be a popular man this free agency period as long as his ACL recovery is on track. The Colts have what many other possible suitors don't: cap space. After trading Wentz, Indianapolis is set to have more than $70 million in cap space this free agency period. It could give Winston a bigger deal than the Saints could, and probably a bigger deal than most other teams in a similar spot.
Winston greatly improved his TD:INT ratio last year while throwing the ball to one of the least talented receiving corps in the league. Under Reich, he could be great. But nobody knows that for sure. It's a big gamble.
Mitchell Trubisky might be the hottest name on the free agent market right now, which speaks volumes to both how sparse the pickings are and how much PR work Trubisky's agent is doing. But if the noise is real, the Colts will undoubtedly be in the running. Trubisky had enough talent to lead the Bears to the playoffs while in Chicago but not enough to overcome any shortcomings on any part of the roster or within the coaching staff. Indy wouldn't need him to do that. Reich knows what he's doing and the rest of the team is ready to compete for the postseason.
Trubisky is no longer a buy-low candidate. He's in like to receive potentially more than $10 million annually on the open market. But Indianapolis is as good a place as any to rehab a quarterback's reputation and he'd fit well with what the team is trying to accomplish.