INDIANAPOLIS — Quarterback may be the most important position in sports, but that doesn't mean the Indianapolis Colts are feeling the pressure to find their signal caller of the future — even without a QB currently under contract past the 2020 season.
Case in point: with the NFL Draft set to kick off on Thursday, the Colts have certainly done their due diligence on every possible prospect at the quarterback position, but general manager Chris Ballard said Friday that there's no need to select a QB this year just because.
If the Colts like a quarterback and the timing is right, they'll take him. If not, they won't. It's that simple.
"You can't force that. You can't force the quarterback position, especially in the draft," Ballard said in his annual pre-draft press conference. "I think history has shown that. It's got to be the right guy, the right fit for us and for our staff and for our organization.
"So I don't know when that's going to happen — maybe this year, maybe next year, maybe two years from now. I don't know," Ballard continued. "I'm not going to force it, much to everybody's dismay and it might drive everybody nuts, but I'm not going to force that issue. When we decide to take one up that we think is going to be the future guy of this franchise you've got to be right."
When evaluating the current Colts roster, the team's three quarterbacks — Jacoby Brissett, Chad Kelly and Philip Rivers — are all in the final years of their respective deals. At this point, Ballard indicated, there's a possibility at least one them could be back in 2021.
» Rivers was inked to a one-year deal via free agency on March 21 to become the Colts' new starting quarterback. At 38 years old, Rivers is in more of a year-to-year mode in terms of his future in the NFL, but if all goes well this season, Ballard said the hope is for the eight-time Pro Bowler to be back under center in Indy next year.
"Hopefully Philip plays more than one year," Ballard told Colts.com’s Matt Taylor on Friday. "We'd like him to play two, we just did the contract as a one-year deal and we'll kind of let it play out."
Rivers definitely seems to be on board with that plan.
"There really wasn't necessarily a plan like, 'Hopefully we can do one year, hopefully we can do two,'" Rivers told reporters March 21 about what kind of contract he was looking for heading into free agency. "It was just kind of, 'Hey, whatever works out best for both sides,' and it happened to work out this way. And again like I said, we're a ways away. We know how this league is, things change in a hurry, but certainly hope that it's longer than that. But I think it's just important to focus on this season and focus on right now — 'How can I get better and help the Colts today? And doing that throughout the rest of this offseason and throughout this season?'
» Brissett signed a new contract just before the start of the 2019 season that essentially extended his deal one extra year through 2020.
Tasked with immediately filling the void of Andrew Luck, who decided to retire from the NFL midway through the preseason last year, Brissett would start 15 games in 2019, completing 272-of-447 pass attempts for 2,942 yards with 18 touchdowns to six interceptions.
While the signing of Rivers means a transition back into a backup role for Brissett, Ballard isn't ruling out the possibility of Brissett remaining with the team past this year, either.
"I don't want to discount Jacoby Brissett," Ballard said. "Jacoby Brissett is still a good player. This was a unique opportunity with Philip. You have a potential Hall of fame Quarterback hit the market that has a history with both our head coach and our offensive coordinator. So we're fortunate to have both these guys on the roster at the same time."
» Kelly, meanwhile, was was signed by the Colts as a free agent last May. The 26-year-old was selected by the Denver Broncos in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Ole Miss, and spent the 2017 season on injured reserve; in 2018, he appeared in one game with the Broncos before he was released.
Kelly shined in preseason action with the Colts last year, playing in all four games with two starts and completing 54-of-73 passes (74 percent) for 583 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran the ball 10 times for 107 yards and another two scores.
Kelly was signed to the Colts' practice squad in mid-September, and then was promoted to the active roster Nov. 9. He was active for one game (Week 10 against the Miami Dolphins), but did not play in the contest.
So, for now, even with the draft on the horizon this week, Ballard and the Colts aren't putting any extra pressure on themselves to find their future at the quarterback position. The team always has its eyes on QBs, and that won't change now.
"We'll let it play out," Ballard said. "We won't force the issue. If we find a guy we like in the draft, yeah, we'll take him, but if we don't, then we'll just move forward and make decisions and find a guy when the time is right."