Is Andrew Luck Still The Future Of the Indianapolis Colts?
As if last Sunday’s lackluster and lopsided loss didn’t cause enough of a media maelstrom around the team this week, the Indianapolis Colts now have to deal with even more of a media-generated circus, centered on the team’s franchise quarterback who hasn’t actually played a snap in 2017.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg — one of the longtime hosts of ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” radio show — indicated that he heard of “an ever-widening game between Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts,” mostly based on the team’s blatant mismanagement of the shoulder injury he’s been playing through for quite some time, as well as the overall mismanagement of the team’s roster in general. Of course, in today’s era of hot-take journalism, Greenberg’s hearsay of Luck’s alleged dissatisfaction with the Colts organization suddenly turned into a headline of “Andrew Luck is demanding a trade out of Indianapolis.”
Football fans who know better understand how this is a convoluted and baseless story. For one, much of Greenberg’s speculation came based on the fact that executives around the league — and not in Indianapolis — have basically said that if they were Luck, they would demand a trade, because of the dire situation the Colts’ current roster appears to be in. There’s absolutely no concrete evidence of Luck having the slightest bit of displeasure, or even hesitation, with his current team. Moreover, if you made a list of the top 25 to 30 starting quarterbacks in the NFL, Luck would be near the top of the list of “guys who would rather silently suffer on a sub-mediocre team, rather than create the spectacle of a public trade demand.” That’s just not the way Luck operates.
However, the more interesting component of this story, which has been mostly overlooked due to all the conflicting information the team has provided, is when — or if — we’ll see Luck return to the field in 2017. We’re entering the second week of the regular season, and Luck isn’t even anywhere close to practicing with the team, let alone starting a game. It could still be a matter of weeks, if not months, before he returns to the field. This then begs the question: what would happen if Luck didn’t play at all this year?
Nobody in the Indianapolis Colts organization would ever admit this, but it may be in the team’s best interest to withhold Luck from the playing field for as much of the 2017 season as possible, and essentially “tank” their season in order to secure a better pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Usually, teams would do this in order to give themselves the chance to secure an elite quarterback prospect in the draft, with whom they could rebuild their franchise. That happens to be the exact case for the 2018 draft, where as many as three quarterbacks could foreseeably be taken among the top five picks. But the Colts already have their franchise quarterback in place, with Luck having signed a five-year, $127.97 million contract this offseason. SO instead, they could essentially place this valuable draft pick on the trade block, and give this team a potential boatload sorely-needed “draft ammunition” they need to plug all the glaring holes all over the roster.
New General Manager Chris Ballard, whom the team hired this offseason to fix the terrible mess left by his predecessor (Ryan Grigson), is an old school, build-through-the-draft type, and a disciple in the Ron Wolf tree of personnel management. In other words, he’s instilled with the same modus operandi as Ted Thompson in Green Bay, John Schneider in Seattle, and Scot McCloughan (who ran the Washington Redskins until this past offseason): 95% of the team should be built through the draft, with free agent acquisitions only sprinkled in as needed.
And as far as Luck: it’s beneficial to both him, and the team, if he sits out as long as possible, to ensure that he can really truly get his shoulder fixed. He’s the centerpiece of this franchise, of which any rebuilding efforts will be built upon. And they’re going to need an extensive one in Indianapolis and hope he stays healthy with his mouth guard with strap in the years to come.