The Indianapolis Colts should be pursuing quarterback Lamar Jackson and here are four reasons why a potential move makes sense.
The future of former MVP Lamar Jackson is still uncertain as he has yet to sign a long-term deal with the Baltimore Ravens. The situation has been influx for a few years now and the guaranteed contract signed by Deshaun Watson with the Cleveland Browns has thrown a monkey wrench into negotiations.
As of today, there’s no guarantee that Jackson will be wearing purple and black next season and there are several suitors who should be lining up for his services. One team in particular, the Indianapolis Colts, have been linked to the former MVP. There are several reasons why this move would make perfect sense for Indy.
Let’s jump right in with four reasons why the Indianapolis Colts need to pursue former MVP Lamar Jackson this offseason.
Reason No. 1: The Colts Are Ready To Win Now
For the past few seasons the Indianapolis Colts have tried to paper over the cracks at the quarterback position with several retread veterans. They tried the same experiment with Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan and they have all failed in different ways.
What these three quarterbacks have in common is that they were either well past their prime or simply too beat up to play quarterback at an elite level in the NFL. Lamar Jackson on the other hand, is still in his mid-20s and theoretically should be at the peak of his powers. He has shown that he can carry a subpar team to a playoff berth and the talent in Indianapolis could be the best he has been surrounded with since his first two seasons in Baltimore.
The Colts have established star players on offense like Jonathan Taylor and Quenton Nelson, and other weapons like Michael Pittman Jr. and Mo Alie-Cox who are great in their own way. Pittman would likely be the best receiver that Jackson has played with in the NFL and Alec Pierce is an exciting prospect, too.
The Colts’ defense struggled mightily last season but much of that had to do with the poor play from the offense and the high turnover rate at quarterback. They have star players on the unit like Shaquille Leonard, DeForest Buckner, and Kenny Moore who will be back and ready to go in 2023. With the help of a more competent offense, this defense could return to being among the best in the NFL.
Reason No. 2: The Wide Open AFC South
This is similar to the initial point about the Colts being ready to win now, but there’s also the additional aspect of the AFC South being completely wide open. For as good as the Jacksonville Jaguars looked in the second half of the season, they were still barely above .500 in 2022 and are far from a finished product.
The Jaguars are still a work in progress and the rest of the division is in for a rebuild. The Tennessee Titans could be moving on from quarterback Ryan Tannehill and beginning a rebuild of their own, while the Houston Texans will likely be drafting a quarterback in the first round and continuing their current build.
As we mentioned in the last section, the Colts have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball and have simply been missing a competent quarterback to connect the dots. Bringing in Lamar Jackson would make them an immediate favorite to win the division and host a playoff game against a wild card contender in the AFC. The Colts need to strike while the iron is hot and in this case the iron is a division with a ton of turnover and no clear favorite.
Reason No. 3: Lamar Jackson Is A Scheme Fit For Indianapolis
This off-season the Colts hired former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen as their head coach. Steichen was the architect of a dominant Philadelphia Eagles offense that made the most of quarterback Jalen Hurts’ dual-threat ability, and he could do the same in Indianapolis.
Rather than try to make Hurts a pure pocket passer, Steichen allowed him to work in space and use his athleticism, and he could easily do the same with Lamar Jackson. Hurts was an MVP candidate as a result and had an incredible season where he accounted for 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns. The best version of Jackson is what Hurts looked like in the Eagles offense last season and it’s easy to see the vision with Jackson doing much of the same things.
The Colts may not have the powerful offensive line that the Eagles did last year but adding Jackson could allow them to focus on building that unit in the draft and rebuilding their powerful running game from 2021. Steichen also excelled at play-calling around the strengths of his quarterback and the unique abilities of Jackson could unlock that offense even further.
Reason No. 4: The Colts Have Cap Space Available
Coming into the off-season, the Colts looked to have one of the worst cap situations in the NFL, but that situation was remedied with a few shrewd moves in the last month. They cleared about $17 million in cap space by releasing Matt Ryan and trading Stephon Gilmore to the Cowboys. The front office can clear even more space by making some other roster moves.
As of today, the Colts have about $20 million in cap space in 2023 and again, as of today, they are scheduled to have over $100 million in cap space in 2024. Acquiring Lamar Jackson would require significant investment from the Colts as he is reportedly looking for a guaranteed deal, but owner Jim Irsay has never shied away from spending big on quarterbacks.
As has been pointed out by several others, the Colts handed out record-breaking dollar amounts of guaranteed money to quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck in the past and would be smart to do so again with Jackson.
Lamar presents the Colts with a unique opportunity to acquire one of the stars of the NFL at the peak of his powers. Jackson is one of the most marketable players in the league and has steered clear of any off-field trouble or locker room drama that we know of. Adding him to this team would immediately catapult them into the discussion for best team in the AFC and would solve the quarterback problem they have been struggling with since the surprise retirement of Andrew Luck.