The Indianapolis Colts got to watch the top quarterback prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft work out at their home stadium during the combine earlier this month, but they reportedly are also open to bringing in a former NFL MVP to solve their QB woes.
ESPN’s Stephen Holder reported on Monday that the Colts have not ruled out the possibility of pursuing Lamar Jackson.
The Baltimore Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson on March 7 after failing to agree on a long-term extension. The tag is set to pay Jackson $32.4 million for the 2023 season before he becomes a free agent in 2024. The non-exclusive designation also allows Jackson to negotiate with other teams and gives the Ravens a chance to match any offer sheet he gets or receive two first-round picks as compensation.
When news broke that Jackson would have the chance to talk to organizations outside of Baltimore, several QB-needy teams immediately removed themselves from the conversation. Various reports came out saying the Washington Commanders, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers all were not expected to pursue Jackson.
The Colts were not named in those reports, though, as they continue their search for a long-term answer at quarterback. Since Andrew Luck’s stunning retirement in 2019, Indy has trotted out six starting QBs, including three veterans who were one-year rentals.
Jackson, who is negotiating on his own behalf since he does not have an agent, is expected to chase a long-term commitment. He is currently slated to be the 13th-highest-paid QB in the league next season, and with Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and Josh Allen among the quarterbacks to cash in nine-figure paydays recently, there is reason for Jackson to command a similar – or larger – contract.
The Colts own the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft, but that does not guarantee their top choice at QB will be available. The Panthers sent a haul to the Chicago Bears to move up from No. 9 to No. 1 in the draft order. After that, the Houston Texans are poised to take a quarterback at No. 2 overall and the Arizona Cardinals could pull a similar trade to the Bears and move down while adding more draft picks.
Owner Jim Irsay already made one major move this offseason by hiring a new head coach in Shane Steichen. The next step is finding a new signal-caller, and it appears the team is still open to the possibility of a major splash.