Jacoby Brissett

Andrew Luck’s Week 1 Availability “Really In Question”

Colts head coach Frank Reich prefers to make a decision on his Week 1 starting quarterback following his club’s third preseason game, and it may not be Andrew Luck who’s under center. Unless Luck makes a “miraculous recovery,” backup Jacoby Brissett us likely to start for Indianapolis in its season opener, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Additionally, Garafolo reports the Colts “finally” feel as though they have a handle on the exact nature of Luck’s injury. Rather than just a calf or just an ankle issue, it seems as though Luck is dealing with an ailment that’s been caused by “accumulation over time.” What exactly that means for his recovery is unclear, but Indianapolis is now confident it can help its star quarterback heal.

Luck originally underwent an MRI on his calf in March that revealed a strain, but began to experience ankle trouble in May. Another test Monday revealed Luck could be dealing with some sort of high-ankle issue, though it’s not evident if he’s been diagnosed with a dreaded high-ankle sprain. At the moment, it doesn’t appear Luck is experiencing any Achilles trouble.

Luck won’t play during the preseason, and his absence will give Brissett even more time to prepare for the regular season. Brissett, of course, was the Colts’ full-time starter in 2017 when Luck st out the year with a shoulder injury. In 15 starts, Brissett completed 58.8% of his passes for 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Among the 29 quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts that season, Brissett finished 22nd in adjusted net yards per attempt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reich Lobbies Against Jacoby Brissett Trade

Add Frank Reich to the list of Colts decision-makers that do not want Jacoby Brissett to be traded. One of the NFL’s top backups, Brissett is entering a contract year and may be an interesting trade chip for the contending team.

But in 2018, Jim Irsay said they would not trade their backup quarterback for a first-round pick. The Seahawks’ offer of a second-rounder was reportedly insufficient, though a report this year indicated the Colts may be softening their stanceChris Ballard said in January that Brissett was a future NFL starter. Despite Brissett’s potential 2020 free agency defection, Reich wants to keep Andrew Luck‘s backup.

I tell Chris all the time, ‘Please don’t let him go. I don’t care what anybody offers him. Don’t let him go,'” Reich said, via Kevin Bowen of 1070TheFan.com. “I love Jacoby. The problem is now I’ve gotten to know Jacoby and, at some point, I hope that it works out for Jacoby. But not now.”

Reich is in a unique position to understand Brissett’s status, having spent most of his career as a backup quarterback. Last season, the Colts understandably needed more insurance than many teams because of Luck having missed all of 2017. But Luck started all 16 games and looks to have recovered from the shoulder malady that threw his career off axis. A former Patriots third-rounder, Brissett ended his 2017 starter season with the No. 29 QBR figure and threw for just 13 touchdown passes in 16 games. But the former North Carolina State prospect has generated some intrigue around the league.

It’s impossible for me to have a higher opinion of Jacoby than I do,” Reich said. “I said it last year; I think he’s a top-20 quarterback. I still say that. After watching him for a year, this guy’s really good.”

As of now, some future Hall of Fame quarterbacks stand to be 2020 free agents. But the prospect of Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Philip Rivers leaving their current teams seems incredibly remote. Ditto for Dak Prescott. The true market may include the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum and Ryan Tannehill, with the situations of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota (both set to play on fifth-year options) being ones to monitor. Brissett may factor into this mix, but to have a chance to start again, he will obviously have to prepare to leave Indianapolis.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Brissett, Colts, Falcons, Saints, Bucs

When Andrew Luck missed the entire 2017 season, Jacoby Brissett ended up becoming the Colts’ starter after they acquired him from New England, and he filled in admirably. He’s remained in Indianapolis since then, despite trade rumors swirling ever since. Colts GM Chris Ballard said in January that the team viewed Brissett as a starter in the league, and that they’d have to be blown away to trade him.

We now have more details on their thinking, as sources at the combine told Tony Pauline of Draftanalyst.com that the Colts “would demand a second-round choice ” for Brissett. Pauline further explained their process, writing that if Brissett walks in free agency after this season the Colts think “they would likely receive a compensatory third-round pick based on the contract he’s likely to sign; hence the second-round price tag.” This could all just be posturing to elicit better offers for Brissett, but it definitely seems like the team is high on him.

Here’s more from the league’s southern divisions:

  • The Falcons have repeatedly expressed confidence that they’d be able to get a new deal done with Julio Jones, but there’s “not much going on” between the two sides, a source told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jones is locked into a contract that is one of the best bargains in the NFL, and isn’t happy about it. He briefly held out last offseason before the team sweetened his deal with some incentives to draw him back. As McClure points out, GM Thomas Dimitroff has said the team is optimistic against getting a deal done, but there’s apparently been no progress. Jones could hold out again this summer, and it’ll be something to keep an eye on.
  • There were some rumors online that the Buccaneers could be shopping linebacker Lavonte David at the combine, but those apparently are false. Multiple sources told Jenna Laine of ESPN.com that David “is going nowhere.” David is still only 29 and received very good marks from Pro Football Focus last year, so it makes sense that the Bucs would want to keep him in the fold as they rebuild their porous defense.
  • The Saints are hiring former NFL linebacker Michael Wilhoite to their coaching staff, according to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. Wilhoite will be a special teams assistant in New Orleans. Wilhoite played six seasons in the NFL from ’12-17, spending time with the 49ers and Seahawks.

Colts Rumors: Doyle, Geathers, Brissett

The Colts will likely be without tight end Jack Doyle for the bulk of the offseason, GM Chris Ballard told reporters on Wednesday. Doyle, of course, missed significant time in the 2018 season thanks to a hip injury and finished out the year on IR thanks to a kidney injury that required surgery.

In six games last year, Doyle caught 26 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Eric Ebron picked up the slack with 66 grabs for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Colts hope to have both players in the mix in two tight end sets, but if Doyle misses time, they have a deep TE unit to draw from including the recently re-signed Ross Travis and former basketball player Mo Alie-Cox.

Here’s more from Indy:

  • The Colts want to re-sign safety Clayton Geathers, GM Chris Ballard says (Twitter link via Mike Chappell of FOX 59). Geathers, 27 in June, amassed 89 tackles and three passes defensed as the Colts’ starting strong safety. However, he missed four games and earned a so-so 67.4 score from Pro Football Focus, positioning him as just the 51st best overall safety in the NFL.
  • Geathers, cornerback Pierre Desir, and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman will be allowed to test the market in March, even though there is interest in bringing each player back, Stephen Holder of the Indy Star (on Twitter) hears. Holder adds that safety Matthias Farley will likely be tendered and should return to the squad in 2019.
  • The Colts are still exploring backup quarterbacks and those conversations almost led them to signing Calgary Stampeders QB Bo Levi Mitchell recently, Holder hears (Twitter link). Still, Holder does not expect those conversations to have any direct impact on Jacoby Brissett‘s status for the coming year. The Colts say they’re not shopping Brissett, but if they do, they should find a decent market for his services.

Colts GM On Possible Jacoby Brissett Trade

The Colts have a potential trade chip in backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett. However, they also value him highly and aren’t inclined to trade him for cheap. 

I think he’s a starter in the league,” GM Chris Ballard said (via Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star). “It would take somebody doing something that would blow me away, and it has to be the right thing for the kid, too. I’m not just sending him anywhere.”

Last year’s free agent QB crop was uniquely strong, but this year’s group doesn’t offer nearly as many viable options. Between Brissett’s 2017 performance and the dearth of quality signal callers out there, Brissett could fetch a high price if he’s dangled to other teams.

The Colts went just 4-12 without Andrew Luck under center in 2017, but Brissett did well from an individual perspective. He completed 58.8% of his throws that year for 3,098 yards with 13 touchdowns against seven interceptions. Those aren’t MVP numbers, but he was playing behind a porous offensive line that allowed him to be sacked 52 times.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2019 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $2MM in 2019. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

Bears: RB Jordan Howard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

Broncos: G Connor McGovern, S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons

Browns: S Derrick Kindred, LB Joe Schobert

Buccaneers: G Caleb Benenoch, DE Carl Nassib, CB Ryan Smith

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown

Chiefs: CB Kendall Fuller, WR Tyreek Hill, S Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson

Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett, T Joe Haeg

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown, DT Maliek Collins, QB Dak Prescott

Dolphins: RB Kenyan Drake

Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, G Wes Schweitzer

Jaguars: DE Yannick Ngakoue

Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Rashard Robinson, T Brandon Shell

Lions: C Graham Glasgow

Packers: LB Kyler Fackrell, DE Dean Lowry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Antonio Morrison

Patriots: G Joe Thuney, LB Elandon Roberts

Rams: G Austin Blythe, TE Tyler Higbee

Ravens: DE Matt Judon, OL Alex Lewis, CB Tavon Young

Saints: DT David Onyemata

Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

Texans: DT D.J. Reader

Titans: S Kevin Byard, WR Tajae Sharpe

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Extra Points: Brissett, Hackenberg, Cowboys, Seahawks, Bears

We heard yesterday that the Colts‘ had rejected the Seahawks offer of a second-round pick for quarterback Jacoby Brissett. However, Colts general manager Chris Ballard is saying the front office never talked trade with Seattle. The executive told ESPN’s Booger McFarland that the two sides had never discussed a trade for the 24-year-old (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com).

We learned back in March that the Colts had rejected a pair of trade offers for Brissett, who they acquired from the Patriots last year. Colts owner Jim Irsay recently said that his club wouldn’t trade Brissett for a first-round pick, so it sounds like the organization is content with the quarterback as their potential longterm backup to Andrew Luck. Brissett was solid as a starter last season, compiling 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also rushed for an additional 260 yards and four scores.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • After being released by the Raiders and before joining the Eagles, we had heard quarterback Christian Hackenberg had worked out with the Patriots. Well, it sounds like another team expressed interest in the former second-rounder, as Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that Hackenberg had worked out for the Texans. Houston’s interest in the quarterback could indicate that the team isn’t happy with the current backups to Deshaun Watson, a grouping that includes Brandon Weeden and Joe Webb.
  • The Cowboys added one safety today when they signed Dominick Sanders. However, it sounds like the team is still seeking some reinforcement at the position, as Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets that the team will audition Jeron Johnson tomorrow. The former undrafted free agent out of Boise State has managed to appear in 64 games since entering the league in 2011, but he’s only appeared in four games over the past two years. His best season came in 2015 with the Redskins, when he compiled 27 tackles.
  • While the Cowboys continue to seek safety help, there apparently hasn’t been any progress with the Seahawks in regards to an Earl Thomas trade. Watkins tweets that “nothing new is happening” with Seattle, meaning there may not be an end in sight when it comes to the ongoing Thomas saga. The veteran Pro Bowler has sat out the first part of the preseason, and he’s requested a new contract or a trade.
  • The Bears announced (via Twitter) that cornerback Deiondre’ Hall has been suspended for the first game of the upcoming season for violating the NFL’s Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. The 2016 fourth-rounder has appeared in 10 games through two seasons with Chicago, collecting nine tackles, three passes defended, and one interception. He was already on the roster bubble for the Bears, and his suspension might improve Doran Grant or Jonathon Mincy‘s chances of making the roster.

Colts Rejected Seahawks’ Offer For Jacoby Brissett

From a statistical standpoint, Jacoby Brissett was not especially impressive as the Colts’ starting signal-caller last season, but teams apparently saw enough in the former third-round pick to try and pry him away from Indianapolis this year. We heard back in March that the Colts had rejected two trade offers for Brissett — though the identities of the two teams and the strength of the offers were not known — and Colts owner Jim Irsay recently said that his club would not even trade Brissett for a first-round pick.

While it’s unlikely that the Colts have been tempted with a first-rounder, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports that the Seahawks did recently offer a second-round choice to Indianapolis in exchange for Brissett, and the Colts declined. Seattle, of course, does not need a starting quarterback with Russell Wilson under center, but the team apparently believes it could upgrade its backup situation. Austin Davis, who served as the team’s No. 2 QB last year, has not attempted a regular season pass since 2015, and the other quarterback on the roster, Alex McGough, is a rookie and was a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft. Seattle recently worked out Josh Johnson, which also suggests the team is not sold on either Davis or McGough should Wilson be forced to miss time.

The Colts, meanwhile, are thrilled to have Andrew Luck back and apparently healthy, but given his serious and well-documented shoulder problems, it is understandable that they would like to have a capable backup should Luck suffer any more setbacks.

Brissett is under contract through the 2019 season. Last year, his first as a full-time starter, he complied a 4-11 record and an 81.7 quarterback rating, throwing for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He did rush for an additional 260 yards and four scores, and given his relative inexperience, the Colts’ porous offensive line, and the fact that he was traded from New England to Indianapolis just before the 2017 regular season began, he did about as well as could be expected (as evidenced by the trade interest he has generated).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Irsay: Colts Unlikely To Trade Jacoby Brissett For First-Round Pick

Andrew Luck has not experienced any setbacks in a long-awaited recovery thus far during Colts camp, but his 2017 absence allowed for a one-time third-string quarterback to see nearly a full season’s worth of starts.

And Jim Irsay doesn’t want to part with Jacoby Brissett, regardless of Luck’s status. The Colts rebuffed trade offers during the spring for their current backup quarterback, but it’s unclear what teams proposed. However, the outspoken owner said he has no plans to trade Brissett — even for a first-round pick.

All of a sudden, we have the best backup quarterback in football,” Irsay said, via Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “I don’t think we’d accept a (first-round pick in a trade) for him, we think he’s that good.”

That would seem like a lofty asking price for a former third-round pick, but the Colts obviously have a strong reason to employ a quality backup. Despite being a preseason trade acquisition, Brissett started 15 games last season. While his 39.6 Total QBR ranked 27th last season, the former N.C. State passer did not have an offseason to acclimate to his new offense.

Brissett is under contract through the 2019 season and doesn’t have any $1MM-plus base salaries on his rookie deal. While it would be surprising if the Colts legitimately turned down a first-round pick in this case, teams have been protective in the recent past regarding backups — the Bengals with A.J. McCarron coming to mind. Though, the 49ers acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo — stationed in front of Brissett in 2016 — for a second-rounder may make Irsay’s first-round pledge moot.

Brad Kaaya and Temple-produced UDFA Phillip Walker are the other QBs on the Colts’ roster.

Irsay went on to express confidence in Luck’s health, indicating he has “no doubt” about his starter’s arm strength despite the immense layoff. Irsay admitted Luck’s inability to return to action last season surprised him, but now the Colts have a remarkably better signal-caller situation than they did a year ago at this time.

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Colts Reject Trade Offers For Jacoby Brissett

The Colts have received two trade offers quarterback Jacoby Brissett, according to Stephen Holder of the Indy Star. The identities of those teams and the strength of those offers are not known, but the Colts declined those overtures with the idea that they will retain him this season. 

Given Andrew Luck‘s health issues, it’s no surprise that the Colts are putting a great emphasis on the backup quarterback role. Brissett is not a world beater, but he is a capable QB who can fill in if needed. He’s also significantly cheaper than other signal callers at his level. The former third round pick is slated to earn just $735K this year and $890 in 2019.

Brissett, who is still just 24, threw 13 touchdowns against seven interceptions for the Colts last season. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 29 ranked quarterback out of 39 qualified players.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.