The Colts are still in the process of evaluating their future at quarterback, and no decision has been made on what that means for Carson Wentz as of Tuesday afternoon.
General manager Chris Ballard said that process – which includes conversations between him, head coach Frank Reich and Owner and CEO Jim Irsay – will continue to play out over the next week and a half. Those deliberations have been, are and will be centered around a key focal point: Is Wentz the best long-term answer for the Colts at quarterback or not?
"We're not there yet, I'm not there yet," Ballard said about coming to an answer for that question. "That's something that we'll talk about as a group and move forward. Whatever decision we make will be the best one for us."
Rumors and criticism have swirled around Wentz since Week 18's 26-11 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the second of back-to-back defeats in win-and-in games that knocked the Colts from owning a 98 percent chance of making the playoffs to out of the postseason picture. That loss certainly has weighed heavily in evaluations of everybody involved – not just Wentz – as the Colts have worked to strike a balance between judging the full scope of 2022 while not minimizing the painful nature of how the season ended.
"We didn't finish the season the way we should have, all of us – every one of us, players and coaches," Reich said. "So, if we finish the season the way we're supposed to, we're probably not having this discussion.
"We have to take ownership of it. I do as the coach, every player. Head coach and quarterback are under the most scrutiny. So, we live with that and move forward."
Before Ballard and Reich arrived at the Indianapolis Convention Center Tuesday afternoon, they each sat down with Wentz at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center a few miles away. Wentz was back in town after a trip out west – which included a throwing session with wide receivers Michael Pittman Jr. and Dezmon Patmon – and Ballard characterized his conversation with him as "really good."
And Reich said he believes Wentz is taking the right approach to all the noise and the Colts' impending decision on his future.
"He knows what's going on," Reich said. "He knows the evaluation process. It's not just him, but it's everybody.
"So really what's been said is, 'Hey, here's what we do. We think positively. You can only assume the best, believe the best, think the best, act the best until we're told different.' That's just the way you approach it. You believe in yourself, you believe in the process, you believe in the team, you believe in your teammates and you keep moving forward until you're given notice otherwise and you believe the best."
Both Ballard and Reich believe Wentz will show progress from everything that's happened after the calendar flipped to 2022, from the crushing end of the season ("I feel a resolve from him," Reich said) to all the rumors and critiques out there ("It'll be interesting to see how he grows from this. I think he will," Ballard said).
And Reich, too, reiterated his belief in Wentz on Tuesday.
"I believe in Carson," Reich said. "I stuck my neck out for him. Last year, I was a big part of that decision to get him here and so I believe he's going to continue to have a lot of success at quarterback. That might be here, that might not be here. That decision has yet to be determined. But I still believe in the person, I still believe in the player."
If the Colts do decide to move on from Wentz, though, Ballard said he won't let that decision be influenced by the pool of potentially-available quarterbacks in free agency, the trade market or NFL Draft. The same can be said for the draft pick compensation the team sent to the Eagles last year (a 2022 first-round pick and a 2021 third-round pick).
"You look at the decision when we made the decision at the time," Ballard said. "You always do what you think is best with the information you have. I don't ever worry about what we gave up or what we did. We make the best decision going forward and whatever the repercussions of that are, they are. We deal with them and figure out how we can move forward."
And, as Ballard stressed: "We will not make a panic move to make a panic move."
The Colts – Irsay, Ballard, Reich – will eventually come to a decision here. It's a complex, challenging issue to evaluate, and is one that extends beyond just the quarterback.
But this is all a long way of saying the Colts have not reached their decision yet. When they do, they'll be confident it's the right one not just for 2022, but for the team's future this decade.
"Ultimately, we'll do what's best for the team, for the Colts," Ballard said. "Both in the short-term and in the long-term."