With the Super Bowl over, almost everyone in the NFL’s attention has shifted to the upcoming offseason. For the San Francisco 49ers, a Jimmy Garoppolo trade is expected to be the first domino to fall.
While teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Commanders have been heavily tied to Jimmy G, a report over the weekend suggests there may be another intriguing trade partner.
“For Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts, it looks bleak. Yes, the Colts did not give him support verbally after the season. Said that they weren’t guaranteeing him anything. Well, right now, it looks bleak. And by March 18, he’ll probably be traded or released. That’s when $15 million of his base salary is guaranteed. So, for Carson Wentz and the Colts, it looks like a one-year marriage that went wrong.”
As teams prepare to play an offseason game of starting quarterback musical chairs, Mortenson’s report suggests the Colts have entered the soirée. Assuming they follow through on trading or releasing Wentz, they could quickly emerge as a top landing spot for Garoppolo.
While almost every sportsbook has the Colts outside the top 10 teams most likely to land Garoppolo, some prominent NFL analysts have already floated the idea.
For example, just a couple of weeks ago, former NFL cornerback and current co-host of The Man to Man Podcast, Darius Butler, was on Mina Kimes’ podcast and was asked where he wanted to see Garoppolo end up. His answer: Indianapolis.
“I think Jimmy G, you put him on a team with a run game like that with Jonathan Taylor, a good offensive line, a good defense that can hopefully get a little better. You got to get him some weapons on offense at the receiver position... I think he’d be an upgrade for the Colts.”
The Colts will undeniably eye a more significant upgrade over Wentz than Garoppolo, but they might not have the ability to do much better on the trade market. Indianapolis does not have their first-round pick in this year’s draft as part of the Wentz trade last offseason.
Unless they are willing to trade one of their best players, that probably eliminates the Colts from any of the elite quarterbacks that could hit the trade market this summer.
On the other hand, the Colts have significant salary-cap space this offseason. If they release or trade Wentz before his guarantees for next season kick in, they will have more than $50 million in space.
In other words, they have the flexibility to absorb Garoppolo’s impending $25.6 million cap hit. Of course, they would still have the option to negotiate an extension to give them more flexibility in the immediate future.
Given how poorly the Wentz trade panned out, Indianapolis would probably be hesitant to trade a first-round pick for Garoppolo. Still, there’s reason to be skeptical that Garoppolo’s market will get that heated.
The Colts have control of their second, third, and fourth-round picks in all future drafts, including 2022. So if they do indeed find themselves eyeing Jimmy G, some combination of those picks in 2022 and 2023 should be enough to satisfy the 49ers.