Colts’ best options if they don’t land Carson Wentz

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Kevin Hickey
·5 min read
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The Indianapolis Colts are seemingly in the sweepstakes for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, but they aren’t the only ones looking to acquire the former first-round pick.

With the Chicago Bears also in the running for Wentz, there is a chance the Colts aren’t the ones who wind up landing him. In that event, Indy will need to look at other options available as they continue on their crusade to find another quarterback.

Here are the best options for the Colts to pursue if they don’t land Wentz in a trade with the Eagles:

Trey Lance

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

One of the big four in the upcoming draft, the Colts should have their eyes all over Lance. Though there are question marks about the competition he played and the fact that he only has one starting season under his belt, the upside is endless. In our latest mock draft, we had the Colts trading up to No. 7 in order to get Lance. It will likely cost the Nos. 21 and 54 overall picks and a 2022 first-rounder, but it would be worth it given the ceiling. Lance has the accuracy, mobility and athleticism to run Frank Reich's quick-hitting passing offense with more potential to utilize RPOs in the system. Trading up for Lance should be considered arguably the best option.

Justin Fields

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Similar to Lance, the Colts would have to trade up to get Fields. However, it's less likely Fields will fall far enough for the Colts to trade up for him. Most mock drafts have Fields going between Nos. 2–4 overall, which would cost the Colts more than what Chris Ballard might want to pay. But getting Fields would give the Colts a starter-ready option at quarterback without the offense taking too much of a step back. Fields has all the traits to be a stellar quarterback plus the fact that he did it at Ohio State helps his case. It's unlikely the Colts will be able to trade up into the top-five picks but if he falls further than that, Ballard should do everything he can to get him.

Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold Jets
Sam Darnold Jets

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Trading for Darnold won't be the most exciting option but it is one that comes with some upside. Now that Adam Gase is gone and Robert Saleh has taken over in East Rutherford, Darnold may be on the block. If they move Darnold, the Colts could have interest in the reclamation project. At just 23 years old, Darnold's best football is (hopefully) ahead of him. Since being the No. 3 overall pick from the 2018 draft, he hasn't yet lived up to that investment. If the Jets want to build around their guy in the draft, the Colts could grab Darnold for a Day 3 pick potentially. Given that the cost wouldn't impede on Ballard's chances to move up for a quarterback they like in April, Darnold is an option for the Colts to consider.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

ALLEN EYESTONE/The Palm Beach Post

This could be a realistic option for the Colts if they want a cheap veteran stop-gap. If they go with Fitzpatrick in free agency, there's a good chance they are going to try to trade up in April's draft. The 38-year-old has been more FitzMagic than FitzTragic in recent seasons. He helped lead the Miami Dolphins to a 10-6 record before getting benched for Tua Tagovailoa. The benching wasn't on Fitzpatrick, who was playing just fine until Brian Flores decided to go with the rookie. Fitzpatrick would keep the Colts offense afloat while they get their younger quarterback ready and would at least be fun to watch under Frank Reich.

Zach Wilson

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Another potential prospect that would require a trade-up in the draft, Wilson is an explosive talent out of BYU. He emerged on the scene to complete 73.5% of his passes for 3,694 yards, 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Wilson has the type of upside that teams love in the draft. It's very possible the Jets wind up taking him at No. 2 overall instead of the aforementioned Fields—should they go quarterback. Wilson has explosive arm talent, enough mobility and the willingness to look downfield often to thrive in the NFL if he pans out. Though Reich's system is based on horizontally stretching the field and taking shots occasionally, Wilson would still be a wonderful fit for the Colts offense.

Mac Jones

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Jones is a solid prospect in the draft but not one that necessarily moves the needle. He capped off a stellar senior season at Alabama but was that due more to playing with incredible talent and an elite offensive line? It isn't clear, which makes his evaluation so tough. But Jones is the kind of quarterback who was made for Reich's system. He can run the RPO while hitting quick shots on slants and crossers. He has enough juice to take the occasional shot downfield but his average arm strength likely won't vault him into the top-10 picks. Jones seems more like a Reich type of quarterback whereas Ballard prefers the toolsy players under center. Regardless, Jones would be a solid selection at No. 21 for the Colts, but no earlier.

Marcus Mariota

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Another option that would come via trade and one that likely wouldn't impress the fanbase all that much. Mariota didn't live up to his billing as the No. 2 overall pick from the 2015 draft, which led to his departure from Tennessee before the 2020 season. He served as the backup to Derek Carr in Las Vegas and now could be the subject of a trade. Mariota would fit Reich's scheme, especially when it comes to the RPO system he has in place. Mostly as a stop-gap, Mariota could keep the Colts offense afloat but likely wouldn't make enough of a difference to bring them far into the playoffs. Like Darnold, the Colts could probably get Mariota for cheap and still move up for a quarterback in the draft if they felt inclined to do so.

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