Indianapolis Colts free agent focus: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck

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Matt Hasselbeck

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 27, 2016) – The Indianapolis Colts already are in the process of putting a season of discontent behind them, and ensuring it doesn’t repeat itself.

Foremost on the team’s “to-do” list is determining which of its own players whose contracts expire in early-March merit re-signing. More than a dozen players, including the franchise’s all-time scoring leader (Adam Vinatieri) and six others who started at least six games, will become unrestricted free agents unless they sign a new contract before March 9.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a capsule look at a few of the more significant free-agents-to-be.

Matt Hasselbeck, quarterback

  • ’15 games/starts: 8/8
  • ’15 salary: $3 million (included $1 million signing bonus)
  • Case for re-signing: All Hasselbeck did as the NFL’s oldest non-kicker was keep the Colts from going off the rails when Andrew Luck suffered rib and shoulder injuries early in the season. No one has asked our opinion, but he was the team’s MVP in ’15.
     
    Despite battling a nasty intestinal disorder, the 40-year-old Hasselbeck led the team to wins over Jacksonville and at Houston that lifted it to 3-2 when 1-4 was a very real possibility. When Luck suffered the lacerated kidney Nov. 8 against Denver, Hasselbeck again stepped in and was under center for victories at Atlanta and against Tampa Bay. He finished 5-3 as a starter while dealing with rib, shoulder, jaw and back injuries. His ’15 stats: 156-of-256, 1,690 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions, an 84.0 passer rating.

    The presence of Luck automatically makes the Colts a perennial playoff contender. But as last season showed, it’s wise to invest heavily in a reliable backup. Over the past three seasons, that’s been Hasselbeck.

  • Case against: We’re not into age discrimination. But in the NFL and at quarterback, age always is a factor. Although Hasselbeck proved he was up for the challenge in ’15, he turns 41 in September. It’s fair to ask whether it makes sense to bring him back for another season – it would be his 18th in the NFL and fourth with the Colts – or look for a younger arm.
     
    Josh Freeman, 28, and Ryan Lindley, 26, shared the workload in the season-ending win over Tennessee while Hasselbeck was out with a sprained right shoulder. Both are under contract for 2016 and training camp competition probably will determine which deserves to be Luck’s understudy.
  • Projection: This is a flip of a coin, and two questions must be answered. 1) Does Hasselbeck still want to play? 2) Do the Colts want him back?
  • Quotable: “I’m looking forward to just kind of plugging back into my family a little bit,” Hasselbeck said as he was cleaning out his locker earlier this month.
     
    “I would anticipate right somewhere after the Super Bowl, maybe that’d be an appropriate time and some of that will be driven by if there’s interest out there, in here or wherever. We’ll see.
     
    “I know I had a lot of fun this year. If my contract wasn’t up, I’d just be planning on coming back here April 21. But it’s up and it’s probably the right time to think about it.”

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