Jacoby Brissett

Colts Notes: Brady, Rivers, Brissett, Vinatieri

We heard last week that Tom Brady‘s camp had expressed interest in the Colts, but that the interest wasn’t mutual as Indy opted to roll with Philip Rivers. But Indianapolis at least looked into the opportunity, as head coach Frank Reich revealed in a video news conference Tuesday, via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. “I watched all of his tape from the last two years,” Reich said. “I think he’s still playing at a super-, super-high level. We know he’s the best of all time for a reason.” Still it wasn’t enough to move him in a different direction, as Reich said “we really felt like Philip was the right guy for us.”

For us, we got the guy we thought was the right fit,” he explained. “I don’t know if I’d say (Brady) wasn’t a fit. There’s always a fit when you have a great player, when you have maybe the best player of all time. There’s a lot of factors that go into these things.” One of those factors is of course Reich’s familiarity with Rivers, who he coached with the Chargers. Brady was likely attracted to the Colts’ coaching staff and offensive line, although things worked out alright for him with Tampa Bay. Still, the fact that the Colts explicitly chose Rivers over Brady is interesting.

Here’s more from Lucas Oil Stadium:

  • Reich reiterated that he didn’t feel like Rivers had lost anything physically, and called it a “crazy unique opportunity” to link back up with his old pupil, per Mike Wells of ESPN.com. “Just being there on the inside in the three years that I was and knowing the quarterback position like I do, I was so confident physically he was the right player and he had not lost anything,” Reich said Tuesday. “I didn’t notice any physical gifts diminishing.” He continued to rave about his new signal-caller, saying “when I tell you he’s elite intellectually, he’s at the top. There are a group of guys in the football world I would put in that category, not everybody gets those gifts. He has them.” Rivers will turn 39 in December and is coming off a down year, but he was one of the best quarterbacks in the league in 2018. Not having to play 16 road games per year like he did in Los Angeles should help.
  • The acquisition of Rivers is sending Jacoby Brissett to the bench, and Reich spoke about him for the first time. “Honestly, he wasn’t happy about it,” Reich said after revealing he called Brissett shortly before they announced the signing of Rivers, via Wells. “But he’s a great teammate and a great leader, and I’m sure he’ll be good. Even though Jacoby isn’t a starter, but there’s nothing saying he can’t play,” he said. “We’re wide open. (Offensive coordinator) Nick (Sirianni) and I have been talking: What does it look like if Jacoby plays five plays a game? Seven plays a game? We’re open to that.” Brissett now has a $21.4MM cap hit to be a backup, so it makes sense they’d want to utilize him somehow.
  • Adam Vinatieri struggled mightily last season before being shutdown with a knee injury and having surgery. But despite now being 47, the legendary kicker is still contemplating playing another season, according to Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star. Reich said that he had seen Vinatieri at the facility rehabbing before COVID-19 closed it. “(We plan) to have a sitdown with Adam and see where he’s at once he’s a little further along in that process,” Reich said. Reich said Vinatieri hasn’t yet made a decision on whether or not to retire. If he decides to keep playing, it’s entirely possible he’ll have to find a new team. Reich and general manager Chris Ballard caught some flak for sticking with Vinatieri so long when he was struggling, and their replacement Chase McLaughlin played well down the stretch. Vinatieri missed eight field goals and six extra points before getting shutdown with four games to go last year. When he underwent surgery, he said he wanted to keep the hope for a 25th season alive.

Colts Plan To Keep Jacoby Brissett

Despite Philip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett and Andrew Luck (dead money) accounting for more than $53MM on the Colts’ 2020 payroll, the team plans to keep its recently demoted quarterback.

Brissett remains in the Colts’ plans for 2020, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Colts released Brian Hoyer minutes ago and now have Rivers at a $25MM price. Brissett is due a $7MM guarantee Sunday, but Fowler notes the team plans to retain the fifth-year passer to play behind Rivers.

After Luck’s retirement, the Colts gave Brissett a two-year, $30MM deal. He is set to count $21.4MM against Indianapolis’ cap next season. The Colts saw Brissett improve mightily from his 2017 performance, but after Jim Irsay said all options were on the table this offseason, the team signed Rivers. Brissett will return to the QB2 role he played in 2018. Rivers has never missed a start since taking the Chargers’ reins at the 2006 season’s outset.

The Colts rejected multiple trade offers for Brissett in 2018, and Irsay said that year he would be unlikely to trade the former Patriots draftee for a first-round pick. Chris Ballard and Frank Reich came out in support of Brissett after Luck’s healthy 2018 season, and the Colts have one of the league’s best backup quarterbacks in the fold — albeit at a higher-than-usual rate.

With the Colts still in need of a long-term answer, it is unclear how they will proceed with Brissett beyond 2020. But for now, it looks like he will be a high-priced backup and play a fourth year in Indianapolis.

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Jim Irsay On Luck, QBs, Castonzo, RBs

After Andrew Luck‘s retirement created the most uncertainty the Colts have faced at the quarterback position since Peyton Manning‘s career-threatening injury in 2011, they now project to be one of the key players in this offseason’s complex quarterback derby.

Presenting a quarterback market that features Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Teddy Bridgewater as free agents — along with nominal UFAs Drew Brees and Dak Prescott — to go with Cam Newton and Andy Dalton as likely trade chips, 2020 brings unusual uncertainty at the NFL’s glamour position.

Colts owner Jim Irsay addressed several topics Sunday but focused on the quarterback position, where the team’s current starter — Jacoby Brissett — is not a lock to stay in that role.

I won’t talk about specific players; I would just say all options are open,” Irsay said, via Mike Chappell of Fox 59. “We have challenged each other to keep the ancient enemy of rationalization out of the room. The quarterback position, the three of us (Irsay, GM Chris Ballard and HC Frank Reich) will make it. We have to. It’s too big of a decision. All options are on the table. I’ve never quite seen a year when this was so unusual if you will. It’s exciting. I look at it as a challenge.”

The Colts, who hold this year’s No. 13 overall selection, have also been linked to making a first-round quarterback pick. While calling Indianapolis’ Brissett-Brian Hoyer depth chart “better than probably half the league,” Irsay will keep the draft avenue open. Although, the Colts are extremely unlikely to be in position to draft one of this year’s top three quarterback prospects at No. 13.

We’ll keep evaluating that position. I know we’ll find the right answer and Jacoby can have a much higher ceiling that he has now. That’s a possibility,” Irsay said. “We could draft someone. That’s a possibility. Doesn’t have to be the first round. There’s a lot of good players out there.

“I know we were going to take Russell Wilson the year (2012) we took Andrew in the fourth round, but he was gone in the third. We would have taken him, but that’s a long story.”

As for who will be Brissett or his replacement’s blindside protector, Irsay is confident Anthony Castonzo will be back. The nine-year veteran is considering retirement. Ballard believes the former first-round pick has several years left in the tank.

“I haven’t talked to Anthony personally, but he’s a Pro Bowl left tackle and we want him to come back,” Irsay said. “I think there’s a strong likelihood that he will, but I think Chris will have more on that in the coming weeks.”

Irsay added that the Colts have not discussed an extension for Marlon Mack. While indicating the Colts like Mack and want him to stay beyond his 2020 contract year, the longtime owner mentioned how much the organization likes 2018 draftees Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines.

Lastly, Irsay did get around to Luck. The owner said both Ballard and Reich still have dinner with the retired passer and that he has not given up on the prospect of the former No. 1 overall pick returning to the Colts at some point.

I try to make the argument (with him) also, ‘What about the $700MM (seems high) you’re leaving on the table?‘” Irsay said, after noting he respects Luck’s decision to retire. “I think we’ll have an outstanding decade, and I think Andrew will have an outstanding life. Will those things meet? It’s very possible, but it’s also not possible. … We have to go on with the assumption that he’s not going to be back. If he comes back, that’s easy.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts GM: “Jury’s Still Out” On Jacoby Brissett

The Colts aren’t sold on Jacoby Brissett as their starting quarterback. Brissett has one more year to go on his contract, but GM Chris Ballard says “the jury’s still out” on the 27-year-old. 

That’s why we did a short-term deal with Jacoby,” said Ballard. “Jacoby did some good things. I don’t want to just look at the second half of the season and say he didn’t, because Jacoby did some good things. I think as a whole, not just the quarterback position, but our passing game has to improve. Unequivocally. That has to get better. You have to be able to throw the ball to win in this league.

This all jibes with a December report from NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport – the Colts, armed with the No. 13 overall pick in the draft, could look for a new signal caller. One can’t help but wonder if their QB search could lead them back to old friend Andrew Luck, but Ballard did his best to downplay that possibility when speaking with reporters on Thursday.

Andrew’s retired,” Ballard said. “Do I talk to Andrew? Yes, I do. Haven’t talked to him in a few weeks, I’m sure he’s been busy being a father. But Andrew’s retired, and I think we all need to accept that. That’s where he’s at. He’s retired.”

After being thrust into the starting QB role, Brissett completed 60.9% of his throws in 2019 for 2,942 yards. He also threw for 18 touchdowns against just six interceptions and advanced the ball on the ground a bit as well. Brissett averaged 4.1 yards on 56 rushing attempts in 2019, scored four rushing touchdowns, and picked up 20 first downs with his feet.

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Latest On Colts’ QB Plans

We recently heard that the Colts could look to add a QB this offseason, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com is hearing the same. Although Indianapolis may not be involved in the free agent or trade market for signal-callers, Rapoport suggests the team could use an early pick on a QB in the 2020 draft.

Starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett had a pretty strong start to the season, but he has struggled in recent weeks as the Colts have fallen out of playoff contention. He is due a $6MM salary in 2020 to go along with a $7MM roster bonus that has already been triggered, but Indianapolis will have plenty of cap space and can afford to carry him on the books even if it selects a young QB.

The 6-8 Colts could find themselves with a mid-first round selection, which may put them in position to land (or trade up for) a collegiate passer like Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa. If they are sufficiently intrigued by such a player, they could easily groom him behind Brissett while parting ways with Brian Hoyer, whose guarantees have already been paid out.

One thing that Colts fans should not hold out hope for, according to Rapoport, is a return of Andrew Luck. “With Andrew, at this point I just kind of take him for face value and we’ll see what happens because only he can decide,” owner Jim Irsay said. “From talking to Andrew, we have to take him at face value for what he says. So [GM] Chris Ballard and I and [head coach] Frank Reich, we have to move forward. And we are with Jacoby and the next draft and thereafter.”

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QB Notes: Dak, Brissett, Steelers, Love

Dak Prescott went through an MRI on his injury shoulder Wednesday, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes. The Cowboys quarterback did not throw in the team’s opening practice this week due to what Ezekiel Elliott said was an AC join sprain. Jason Garrett did not confirm that prognosis but said it was “hard for (Prescott) to function right now.” The fourth-year passer suffered the injury on a scramble against the Rams. Prescott, who has not missed a game in his NFL career, is also dealing with a sprained right wrist and sprained right index finger. The Cowboys have former UDFA Cooper Rush (three NFL pass attempts) as Prescott’s backup, though it would be surprising if the starter missed any time.

Here is the latest from various quarterback situations:

  • The Colts have seen Jacoby Brissett‘s play decline as the season’s gone along, but Frank Reich reaffirmed his commitment to the fourth-year passer as his starter. Reich shot down the notion Chad Kelly would be given significant reps in the final two weeks of regular-season practices, per Mike Chappell of Fox 59. The two-year, $30MM deal the Colts gave Brissett following Andrew Luck‘s retirement guarantees him $7MM via 2020 roster bonus. It would not be a surprise if the Colts added a quarterback in the offseason, per Stephen Holder of The Athletic (subscription required). Brian Hoyer is under contract through 2021 and would bring just a $2MM dead-money hit if released. The Colts are again projected to hold the most cap space in the NFL. There are plenty of impact names set to be free agents, but very few will actually reach the market.
  • Chris Ballard‘s regime has focused primarily on building through the draft, and Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star tweets the Colts should be ready to closely examine passing prospects. Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and perhaps Tua Tagovailoa will be gone by the time Indianapolis’ mid-first-round selection window opens.
  • The Steelers announced they are sticking with Devlin Hodges against the Jets, despite his four-interception performance. Hodges has posted a 38.4 QBR figure, which betters Mason Rudolph‘s league-worst 31.9 mark. The Steelers have not thrown for 200 yards in their past five games.
  • Jordan Love recently declared for the draft. The Utah State prospect was arrested for marijuana possession, according to Will Feelright of the Cache Valley Daily. Police were called to an off-campus apartment complex and arrested two other players for marijuana possession. Love is still on track to play in Friday’s Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl.

Colts QB Jacoby Brissett Won’t Play Sunday

NOV. 10: Brissett is considered week-to-week, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Colts hope Brissett will return for next week’s game against the Jaguars, but nothing is certain at this point.

NOV. 9: Jacoby Brissett has been downgraded to ‘OUT’ for the Colts matchup against the Dolphins tomorrow, reports Stephen Holder of The Athletic (via Twitter). This means Brian Hoyer will take over as the starting quarterback.

Meanwhile, the Colts made a handful of moves to accommodate this lineup change. The team announced that quarterback Chad Kelly (along with wideout Marcus Johnson) has been promoted from the practice squad. To make room on the roster, the team has waived wideout Deon Cain and defensive tackle Kyle Peko.

Brissett injured his MCL during last week’s loss to the Steelers, putting a sudden halt on his breakout campaign. Taking over for Andrew Luck, the 26-year-old has completed 64.8-percent of his passes for 1,649 yards, 14 touchdowns, and three picks. He’s also added another 37 rushes for 110 yards and one score. Hoyer filled in admirably during last week’s loss, throwing for 168 yards and three touchdowns. He’ll be getting his first start since 2017.

Kelly, the Mr. Irrelevant of the 2017 Draft, was suspended for the first two games of this season. After getting waived by the Colts, he subsequently joined the team’s practice squad. Should Hoyer be sent to the sideline, Kelly could see himself playing in his second career game. Johnson, a former undrafted free agent out of Texas, has 11 career receptions for 147 yards and one touchdown.

Cain, a 2018 sixth-round pick, spent his rookie year on the injured reserve as he recovered from an ACL injury. The 23-year-old got into seven games (three starts) this season, hauling in four receptions for 52 yards. Peko, 26, was claimed off waivers from the Bills earlier this week.

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Injury Updates: Bengals, Vikes, Cards, Jets

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had been expected to return to game action in Week 10 against the Ravens, and head coach Zac Taylor even confirmed as much this morning, per Paul Dehner of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, Green didn’t practice Wednesday after experiencing ankle swelling during Cincinnati’s walkthrough and is now considered day-to-day, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, so it’s unclear if Green will still be ready for Baltimore. Green hasn’t played a single snap this year after suffering ankle damage during the preseason. When he does return, he’ll be catching passes from a new quarterback (rookie Ryan Finley) as he makes his case for an extension.

Here’s more on the injury front:

  • Adam Thielen returned to action last Sunday following a hamstring injury-induced absence and quickly re-aggravated the ailment, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer disputes that Thielen came back too quickly, tweets Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. While it’s not apparent if Thielen will play against the Cowboys in Week 10, it doesn’t appear the veteran wideout is dealing with a long-term injury. Minnesota faces Denver in Week 11 before heading to its bye, so the Vikings could conceivably take an overly-cautious approach and hold Thielen out until Week 13, although that could be difficult to do given the tight NFC playoff race.
  • Cardinals running back David Johnson has missed the past two games with back and ankle injuries, but he says he’ll “definitely” be playing when Arizona faces off with Tampa Bay this week, per Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com (Twitter link). With both Johnson and backup Chase Edmonds facing health questions, the Cardinals shipped a conditional sixth-round pick to the Dolphins for Kenyan Drake, who proceeded to rush for 110 yards against the 49ers in Week 9.
  • Le’Veon Bell did not suffer any structural damage to his knee in the fourth quarter of a Week 9 loss to the Dolphins, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. While Bell didn’t practice on Wednesday, he is expected to be ready when the Jets face the Colts on Sunday. Gang Green did promote running back Josh Adams from its practice squad earlier this week, but that move was likely executed as a fail-safe against a possible Bell absence.
  • Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett left Week 9 after incurring a left MCL strain, but he was able to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday, according to Mike Wells of ESPN.com. That news should at least give Brissett a chance to play against the Dolphins on Sunday, although head coach Frank Reich noted it’s not a “slam dunk” that Brissett is available. Indianapolis would turn to veteran backup Brian Hoyer in Brissett’s absence.

Latest On Colts’ Jacoby Brissett

The Colts received good news on their starting quarterback. Jacoby Brissett‘s MRI revealed a left MCL strain, per Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Brissett left Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh in the first half, and an “MCL-ish” hypothesis surfaced Sunday night. Frank Reich confirmed that Monday. The second-year starter has a chance to play in Week 10 against the Dolphins, Reich said (via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, on Twitter), though it would not be surprising to see the Colts exercise caution on this front.

Following Andrew Luck‘s retirement, the Colts signed Brian Hoyer to a three-year deal. He put the Colts in position to beat the Steelers, but an Adam Vinatieri miss dashed those hopes. Hoyer represents better insurance than most teams possess behind their starters, so envisioning the 34-year-old returning to a first-string role against the rebuilding Dolphins would not be difficult. Hoyer has made 37 starts, though none have come since the first half of the 2017 season.

Brissett piloted the Colts to a 5-2 record, performing better than he did in Luck’s stead in 2017. Brissett entered Week 9 with a 14-to-3 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio. He threw 13 TD passes in 16 games two years ago. T.Y. Hilton is expected to miss this week’s Dolphins game, and probably next week’s against the Jaguars as well. The Colts are 0-3 without their top wide receiver over the past two seasons, but the Dolphins certainly represent the best chance for a victory under these circumstances in that span.

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Injury Updates: Brissett, Conner, Thielen

The Colts have been having a surprisingly strong season after Andrew Luck retired, but everyone in Indy was left holding their breath when Jacoby Brissett went down with a knee injury. After the game, head coach Frank Reich said it was a sprain that was “MCL-ish.” Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like Brissett tore anything. Quarterbacks can usually play through MCL sprains, so it doesn’t sound like Brissett will be on the shelf too long. Brian Hoyer filled in and had the Colts in position to win the game late, but Adam Vinatieri missed a 43-yard kick with a minute to go.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • Steelers rookie running back Benny Snell had surgery to trim his meniscus recently and will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Snell was a fourth-round pick back in April. Speaking of Pittsburgh’s backfield, starter James Conner didn’t suit up against the Colts today, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that he’s in danger of missing next week’s game against the Rams. For now, Jaylen Samuels will continue to gobble up most of the snaps.
  • Standout rookie UDFA Preston Williams suffered a knee injury, casting a damper on the Dolphins’ first win of the season. Despite going undrafted Williams has become a key player for Miami, starting all of their games thus far. The injury is a “sprained knee and the hope is that it’s not more serious,” tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. We should know more about the severity soon. Williams had five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Jets before going down.
  • Vikings receiver Adam Thielen returned after a one-game absence due to a hamstring injury, and quickly re-aggravated it. He didn’t return to Minnesota’s loss to Kansas City, and while there’s no word yet on the severity, hamstring issues can linger. They’ll likely be more cautious about rushing their star receiver back this time.