INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Grigson busied himself last year building his first team as a general manager.
Grigson pulled off eight trades to acquire talent to help Indianapolis budge off a 2-14 finish in 2011.
He navigated his way through players waived from NFL teams, as well as performers in four different leagues. One player – Dominique Jones – came from a league that fielded eight-player units.
Grigson re-tooled the active roster to where fewer than 20 players remained at season's end who had played for the club previously than 2012.
He has not stopped this year, pulling off four more trades and signing eight unrestricted free agents.
The one veteran signing that was not through the unrestricted free agent route was the one that breaks rank with the club's long-term history – adding a backup quarterback with a body of starting work in the league.
Grigson inked Matt Hasselbeck on March 19, landing a veteran with 80 starting wins and three Pro Bowl nominations.
"I think every day he's been here, the drum just beats louder for how lucky we are to have him," said Grigson. "Just from a pure leadership standpoint, helping Andrew's progress in this offense, being someone who has been through so many wars."
Not since 2001 have the Colts had a backup with an extended body of work. That year, Mark Rypien appeared in four games as the backup to Peyton Manning.
Previously to that, in 1995 the club had a veteran duo in Jim Harbaugh and Craig Erickson. A year prior to that, Harbaugh and Don Majkowski combined to start 15 of 16 games.
Manning's 1998-2011 run with the team typically found him without a veteran presence elsewhere on the unit.
It was the prescribed plan by Bill Polian for the outset of Manning's career so a controversy outside the club would not ensue over the matter of starting a rookie or bringing him along slowly.
That year, Kelly Holcomb, Jim Kubiak, Bill Musgrave, Doug Nussmeier and Mike Quinn were signed as quarterbacks, with only Holcomb and Nussmeier making it into the season. Neither played as Manning took every snap from scrimmage.
In Manning's final season, Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins opened 16 games, with Collins being signed during training camp when it was evident Manning was not available for an extended period.
Hasselbeck started his career in 1999 in Green Bay as an understudy to Brett Favre, and his 16 appearances there before departing for Seattle in 2001 basically came as a holder.
He since starred with the Seahawks, reaching Super Bowl XL, throwing for nearly 35,000 yards and 201 touchdowns while being voted to the Pro Bowl in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
Matt Hasselbeck's Career Statistics by Team
There is no uncertainty in Indianapolis. Andrew Luck is the starter. Like Manning, he took every offensive snap, and he set NFL rookie records in yards (4,374), attempts (627), 300-yard games (six) and fourth-quarter/overtime comeback wins (seven).
Hasselbeck is a talented backup who has been forged through 152 starts in 194 career games.
It is certain, too, that Grigson will do what it takes to make his teams competitive throughout the 53-man regular-season roster.
"They (Luck and Hasselbeck) already show great synergy," said Grigson. "They communicate really well together. He's fit like a glove with everyone. He is as advertised throughout the league by anyone who has been with him, (like) Andy Reid and who I've talk to. He is as advertised.
"Matt's a phenomenal Plan B if anything should happen. We saw it first-hand down in Nashville last year. He's able to be a guy Andrew can bounce things off of. You have to be able to have the best guys to fill in when your aces are down."