Colts’ Jacoby Brissett: ‘I want to be a starter in this league’

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 03: Jacoby Brissett #7 of the Indianapolis Colts throws the football in the second half of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on December 3, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Jacoby Brissett made one point abundantly clear: life is good.

As he was clearing out his locker and autographing footballs for his teammates following his second season with the Indianapolis Colts, he looked around the room and smiled.

“I can’t complain about anything. I’m blessed,’’ Brissett said the day after the Colts’ season ended with a second-round playoff loss at Kansas City. “I’ve got a good job. I pay my bills. My family’s good. I’m good.

“To think of something that might happen in the near future would be stupid to be honest with you. I’m not going to do that.’’

Again, Brissett flashed a smile. He understood the line of questioning about what most definitely is an uncertain future.

“I want to be a starter in this league,’’ he said. “If that’s what you’re asking me, yeah, I want to be a starter in this league.’’

Yes, that’s what we were asking.

Barring injury, that’s not going to happen with the Colts. Not next season. Not as long as Andrew Luck is around and upright.

There are two paths for Brissett shedding his backup’s role and having an opportunity to prove himself starter-worthy:

  • Test the open market when his contract expires after next season. He’ll be in the final year of his rookie contract in ’19 and have a base salary of $890,000. That’s an absolute steal from the Colts’ perspective.
  • Be part of a trade in the coming weeks and months.

“Just wait and see,’’ Brissett said. “Obviously whatever happens, happens. You deal with what you have to.’’

General manager Chris Ballard isn’t eager to deal his insurance policy.

“I like to sleep at night,’’ he said with a laugh last week. “I mean, I had to live a year with poor Jacoby . . . out there getting thrown into the fire.’’

As everyone undoubtedly remembers, Ballard engineered a Sept. 2, 2017 trade with New England – the cost was 2015 first-round draft pick Phillip Dorsett – when it became clear Luck wouldn’t be ready for the opener, or anytime soon.

After Scott Tolzien’s ineffective performance in the opener against the Los Angeles Rams and with little time to scan the playbook, Brissett took over in week 2 against the Arizona. He kept things from completely unraveling. He passed for 3,098 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions – absorbing a league-high 52 sacks along the way – as the Colts finished 4-12.

That’s how you earn the respect of your teammates. And of your GM.

“He is a special, special teammate,’’ Ballard said. “I think you all see that. You have been through that locker room. He is well respected.

“I think the relationship between him and Andrew has become very strong over time and as you would expect in that quarterback room.’’

However, as cold-hearted as it sounds, the NFL is about maximizing personnel and personnel options.

Brissett’s value to the Colts as Luck’s backup is immense. The prevailing question: what’s his trade value? Ballard could hang onto Brissett until his contract expires and sleep easier at night, or could listen when/if a quarterback-needy team calls.

Last offseason, New Orleans acquired Teddy Bridgewater from the New York Jets for a third-round pick (the Saints also sent the Jets a sixth-rounder) and Cleveland swung a deal with Buffalo for Tyrod Taylor, again for a third-round pick.

Any team interested in prying Brissett from the Colts must come with a serious offer. Ballard made that clear when he met with Brissett.

“This is what I told Jacoby. I said, ‘I am not giving you away. Won’t do it,’’’ Ballard said. “I said, ‘I had chances last year and I didn’t do it, and I won’t do it again.’

“It would have to be right organizationally and for him. I want to do the right thing for the player, too, now. I want to do the right thing for Jacoby. Jacoby has too much value to us, not only as our backup quarterback, who I think you can absolutely win with and I think he is a starter in this league, but also to the locker room.

“So that’s something we will work through, but it would take somebody doing something that would absolutely blow me away and it has to be the right thing for the kid, too. I am not just sending him anywhere.’’

It’s impossible to gauge the upcoming market for quarterbacks. It might include Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, Philadelphia’s Nick Foles, Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and Bridgewater. Also, it appears to be a thin draft for top-level QBs.

If Ballard finds an acceptable trade partner and moves Brissett, he’ll have to find a suitable replacement. It’s hard to imagine the Colts finding a better backup option. Consider a few of the possibilities: Bridgewater, Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, Tom Savage, Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassell, Brock Osweiler.

We can hear the groans from the fan base.

So Brissett waits. And hopes for the best.

“Everybody in this room wants to be a starter,’’ he said. “Nobody wants to be a backup.’’

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