INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – He’s one of the outliers in the NFL: a player confident enough to handle his own business.
That was the case when Jacoby Brissett, a 2016 third-round draft pick of the New England Patriots, negotiated his rookie contract.
And that was the case when Brissett, suddenly handed the keys to the Indianapolis Colts offense when Andrew Luck retired Aug. 24, recently was approached by the team about reworking that rookie deal. It was to have paid him $2 million this season, which in no way would have been commensurate with what was being expected of him.
“Yeah, I do it myself,’’ Brissett said Tuesday. “I don’t like people to BS on my behalf. I try to say it for myself. . . . all you can be is honest.
“I did my rookie contract, too, so I kind of had the gist of it.’’
The end result: a new contract that replaces the final year of his rookie deal. The two-year contract carries a value of $30 million with $20 million in guarantees.
As Brissett held court at his cubicle in the locker room, Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron lurked. He wanted to make certain the next dinner bill would be picked up by Brissett, who’s embracing long-term financial security three months before his 27th birthday. All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard also was interested in finding out the particulars of that Dinner’s on Jacoby event.
“I was definitely happy for him,’’ Leonard said. “For a guy to come in and doing the things that he has done and control his emotions and be ballin’ against us, I definitely think he deserves it.’’
Colts management clearly agreed by reinforcing the supportive comments of Chris Ballard and Frank Reich with a stash of Jim Irsay’s cash.
Remember Reich’s unqualified endorsement of Brissett?
“He is the man. He’s our answer,’’ he said.
Brissett’s new contract essentially is a short-term solution to a complicated situation. Reich has described his new QB1 as one of the top-20 in the league, and Brissett’s $15 million average slots him at No. 18 among players at his position. While paying him appropriately, the Colts also are in position to truly determine whether Brissett is their long-term answer.
Was the new deal a sign of support from the team?
“I thought they supported me all along,’’ Brissett said. “I think that’s a question for them. I’m obviously grateful beyond words for this opportunity, for the Irsay family and the team from trusting. It’s hard to put that part in words.’’
Does the $30 million change things?
“Not at all,’’ Brissett said. “I don’t think it changes anything.
“Money doesn’t define me, so it therefore wouldn’t change me to where I would be anybody different. Just go out there and play football. That’s what I’m excited for.’’
One striking aspect as the Andrew Luck saga played out this offseason was Brissett’s outward calm and confidence. It was evident as he interacted with players on the practice field and in the locker room.
Offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni hasn’t been surprised by Brissett’s demeanor.
“He’s started games before,’’ he said.
There were two games with the Patriots in 2016 when Tom Brady was serving his four-game suspension for DeflateGate. And there were those 15 games in ’17 when Luck would miss the season with his shoulder issues.
One of the intangibles necessary to handle a seismic shift in responsibilities or standing in a locker room is how a player’s wired.
“We talk a lot about being consistent and being the same guy every day,’’ Sirianni said. “That’s something that’s a coach’s dream right there. You know what you’re going to expect and Jacoby’s been that since day 1 here.
“It hasn’t mattered if he’s taken first-team reps, second-team reps, scout-team reps. It doesn’t matter. He’s been the same guy every day and he’s prepared himself as a starter and he’s prepared himself for this situation right here.’’
Sirianni: losing a friend
Like virtually everyone associated with the Colts, Sirianni was stunned by Luck’s retirement. He insisted he never saw it coming.
“The initial reaction is you’re just a little bit taken back,’’ he said. “I was sad that I was losing a friend. The quarterback and coach relationship is so special and so different than any other position on the field. You spend so much time together.
“Obviously he did so many good things on the field, but it’s the relationship, right? I said to him it’s almost like we’re going through a breakup, but we’ll still talk. It’s that relationship that you’ll miss.’’
Another year, another starter
Somewhat surprisingly, the Colts haven’t had the same quarterback start consecutive season openers since 2015-16.
Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, it’s Brissett. Luck was under center in 2018 against Cincinnati, Scott Tolzien in ’17 against the Los Angeles Rams and Luck in ’16 against Detroit.
As for those openers, Indy is looking for a better start in ’19. They’re 1-8 in openers since 2010, and have dropped five straight. They’ve opened 0-2 in four of the last five seasons.
Cornerback Kenny Moore II still had some type of brace on his right hand to protect a broken thumb, but it was quite a bit smaller than the cast he had been wearing. He was evasive when asked if he’d be ready the Chargers game.
Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus seemed optimistic his valued nickel corner would be available.
“Kenny is operating normal business,’’ he said. “He’s going to be OK.’’
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