There’s no doubt how great Andrew Luck can be. Since his arrival in the NFL in 2012 as the No. 1 overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts, he’s already being considered as one of the NFL’s most elite quarterbacks. In only his first three seasons, Luck led the Colts to three consecutive playoff appearances including two AFC South divisional titles in 2013 and 2014, three straight Pro Bowl appearances, and led the NFL in touchdown passes in 2014.
Andrew recovering from successful outpatient surgery to fix right shoulder injury that had lingered since 2015. Will be ready for season!
— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) January 19, 2017
The star quarterback from Standford has been having lingering shoulder issues since 2015 and after undergoing successful surgery the timetable for his return was scheduled for the beginning of the 2017 NFL season. Unfortunately, the organization and Colts fans are still wondering if and when they can expect to see their All-Pro quarterback return to the gridiron.
Luck, in his first three seasons, played every meaningful down for the Colts. It wasn’t until Week 2 of the 2016 season against the Broncos that he reinjured his shoulder trying to tackle Aqib Talib after throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Throughout a large portion of the 2016 season, Luck wouldn’t participate in throwing, instead opting to hand off to running backs to relieve wear and tear on his arm while still amassing 4,240 passing yards and 31 touchdowns while completing a career-high 63.5 percent of his passes in 15 games.
Even with Luck in tip-top shape, the Colts never seemed to have enough to fully put them in contention due to lack of offensive weapons, the running game in particular, and a nonexistent defense. When the Colts went to the AFC Championship title game in 2014 they were manhandled by the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, 45-7. Since Luck joined the Colts in 2012, their defense has been unable to uphold their end of the bargain as Luck has time and time again had to carry the team and lead them to come-from-behind wins. The defense has been ranked 26th, 20th, 11th, 26th, 30th, and 29th since 2012. As we all know, good offenses lead you to Super Bowls but it’s a great defense that helps you win it all.
When healthy, Luck single-handedly puts the Colts in playoff contention, but the problem is that as of late Luck has been bitten by the injury bug and quite frankly pretty soon people are going to start wondering, “what have you done for me lately?” After all, this is the NFL, which some people have coined the league’s abbreviation meaning “not for long.” So, this begs the question, how long do the Colts sit back and ponder whether or not Luck can return to his old form and throw for 4,000+ yards and 30+ touchdowns or do they make a tough business decision and shop around looking for borderline contenders or contenders looking to make a splash at the expense of giving away a significant amount of assets in order to land the two-way star quarterback despite the potential risk?
After all, the Colts gave Luck a huge payday with a six-year, $140 million contract after a down year in 2015, only to see him miss another season this year. They can try to recoup the money they spent on Luck by unloading his contract for draft picks while gearing to choose from a bevy of talented quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft such as:
- Lamar Jackson, Louisville
- Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
- Josh Rosen, UCLA
- Sam Darnold, USC
- Josh Allen, Wyoming
- Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
- Riley Ferguson, Memphis
- Luke Falk, Washington State
It may seem like a long shot but it’s a possibility. There are teams out there that would be willing to have Andrew Luck at 50 percent compared to the quarterbacks they have now. The New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Denver Broncos are teams that could immediately use Luck’s services. Healthy Broncos and Giants teams before the start of the season were expected to make deep playoff runs without Luck. Unfortunately, both franchises have suffered a horrendous season that creates questions about what their teams would look like with Luck at the helm and how either franchise is automatically put into Super Bowl discussions. The Jaguars are currently at 8-4 with a young and talented defense that has them full of playoff implications despite Blake Bortles’ inability to lead the team and having been labeled as a “game manager.”
Miami hasn’t had a franchise quarterback since Dan Marino and their desperation to sign Jay Cutler out of retirement only proves that they’d been willing to give Jim Irsay a percentage of the team if they could if it meant landing Luck via trade. The Buffalo Bills are in the same situation as Miami. Their unfortunate fate of not having a franchise-caliber quarterback since Jim Kelly has caused the Bills to miss the playoffs for 18 consecutive seasons with their previous appearance being in the 1999 AFC Wild Card.
If this NFL season has shown us anything, it’s at least shown us the value of a quarterback is astronomical to the fate of an organization and it’s playoff or championship aspirations. Keeping Andrew Luck most certainly can’t hurt the Colts, but we’ve seen that they can only go so far due to the lack of pieces surrounding him. But by taking a leap of faith and trading the star quarterback to a team willing to part with multiple draft picks, first and second rounders, in particular, can prove to pay major dividends for the Colts as they can search for a second franchise-caliber quarterback while catering to other key positions of need.