(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)
On Tuesday, the Tennessee Titans released three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck when they couldn’t come to an agreement to restructure his contract. Not long after, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that ten different teams, the Cardinals, Bills, Bears, Browns, Bengals, Giants, 49ers, Saints, Buccaneers, and the Colts had already shown interest in signing the fourteen-year veteran. Then, USA Today narrowed down that long list of suitors to just one, Indianapolis, where Hasselbeck was already close to signing his two-year, $8 million contract.
Hasselbeck began his career in 1999 as a sixth round pick and a backup to Brett Favre, and spent the past two seasons in Nashville with the Titans. However, he is best known for his ten seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, where he went 69-62 as a starter and earned three trips to the Pro Bowl and one Super Bowl start.
In Hasselbeck, the Colts now have a playoff tested, levelheaded backup whose wealth of knowledge and situational experience will now be at Andrew Luck’s disposal. With a young starting quarterback, the value of a great sideline mentor should not be underestimated, especially one who played at a high level in his prime.
In Indianapolis, the hope is that Hasselbeck will only play in the preseason. Colts fans, save for the 2011 season, have seldom had to watch the backup quarterback play, but it is rare for a starter to be able to play every down. Should Luck miss some plays due to injury, the Colts’ new backup is still capable of playing good, smart football. He may not be slinging too many deep passes, but Pep Hamilton’s offense is more about precision and timing, which makes Hasselbeck a much better fit than he would’ve been last season.
In his two years with the Titans, Hasselbeck threw for 4,928 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions with an 82 quarterback rating and an average of 205 yards per game. Those numbers likely won’t get anyone into the Pro Bowl, but they are exemplary for a backup. At least a couple of teams in the league would love to get that kind of production out of their young starters, but at nearly 38, a winning team and a good situation must have been more appealing. Welcome to Indianapolis, Mr. Hasselbeck.
Now, we can all go back to speculating on Jim Irsay’s tweets of mystery wide receivers and mega deals.
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Pretty ironic that Irsay is talking about the importance of having "insurance policies", when it is the lack of one iin 2011 that enabled him to get Luck and set the franchise up for another decade plus.
(Of course, there is no back up for Peyton since no one can run the offense he does.... stop it Doug! That is old news, move on.)
Fuck it!!! We just signed an actual NT without knee problems. I'm slightly happier now! This almost makes up for the Hasselbeck signing!
Irsay tweet. "insurance policies are VERY valuable...makes your pillow softer at night"
Obviously this signing is in regards to not having a reliable back up behind Manning when he went down that precipitated the firing of the Polians and Caldwell. Along with the release of many veteran players. The media came down hard that we didn't have that solid back up. I personally believe our team with 'any' back up QB, still would not have made the playoffs that year, so it is a mute point in my book. Last year we were coming of 2-14 with no expectations, so not having a top #2 was not an issue. Now, 11-5 and trying to improve on that, Irsay and Grigson could not allow that to happen again.
I don't fully agree with it, but it is what it is.
@MarcusDugan nice piece here. Thank you.
I know it's alot of money, but Andrew Luck is only starting his second year. Having a good mentor, that has been through what Hasselback has, and had his type of career, can be extremely beneficial for Luck. We may not see his impact directly, but this signing could help Luck continue his path to greatness. Expensive, yes. Worth it, depends on how Hass and Luck get along and what Luck learns along the way. Great mentors go along way when starting a career.
@ColtsAuth_Kyle Would you agree that our two biggest needs right now is a 1)WR and a 2)RB?
Rumor is that Hasselbeck has lost considerable arm strength. So this move has me a bit baffled.
Ok, it is very likely that the Colts, in spite of Irsay's tweeting/teasing will be unable to land a significant FA WR talent at this late date. Just do not see Victor Cruz leaving the "Big Salsa" for Indy.
So, If the Colts are faced with the prospect of developing a gaggle of 2nd year receivers, along with later round WRs and UDFAs in camp, while the team installs a yet anther new offense. Then It makes sense to have a high caliber aging vet to take some of the load off of Luck and Harnish.
I can see Hasselbeck wanting a two year deal, but I wonder what back out options the Colts have retained. What if Harnish looks really good during preseason. In a year with few good QBs in the draft, you may not have the option of parking Harnish on on the practice squad. Do you think the Colts will carry 3 QBs on the 53 man roster all next season? Surely not in 2014. Likewise, there are a bunch of teams with lousy starting QBs or near zero back up depth. Is it conceivable for the Colts to trade Hasselbeck before the 2 years are up and not take a dead cap hit.
I am a little bit conflicted. I know Matt is a nice person, knowledgeable, could be a good asset in the film room and on the sideline, but, as it was the case with Peyton, Harnish would have been just fine, and cheaper.
@DougEngland Is it more honest to think of Hasselbeck as a soon to be 38 year old, 4 million dollar "Camp Arm"/QB Coach/Asst OC/WR Coach? Because it is looking really unlikely the Colts are going to get a proven quality FA WR at this late date. An under the radar, out of left field, "Donnie Avery" type maybe. Also there are few attractive value, "NFL READY" 1st and 2nd round WRs in the draft this year.
That means the Colts are faced with drafting several mid to late round WRs and inviting a gaggle of UDFA WR PROJECTS to training camp. Meanwhile they have to get the rest of the returning receiving corp and the QBs up to speed with a new offense, with outside of Wayne, all being 2nd year men.
Perhaps it is worth contacting Titans bloggers, because I heard the rumor on Hasselbeck is that he has been loosing noticeable arm strength. If true, hard to see Hasselbeck as the preferred #2 backup, if Harnish looks any good in preseason. $4 mil is a lot for a #3 backup QB on the roster, because I doubt you will get Harnish to the practice squad..
Way I see it, Colts give Hasselbeck a big, no huge, pay day to hold Luck's clipboard and help coach up, and play catch with the young ones and mentor Harnish, while getting his arm back in shape for one last shot as a starter. Then before the week 8 trade deadline the Colts unload Hasselbeck, either through a trade to a half dozen teams in severe need of a starter or a backup, or a retirement. I just do not see the Colts carrying 3 QBs on the roster all next year.
Let me know what you think.
@Payton Sounds like Grigson made another solid find; "Franklin played in 12 games for the Chargers last season, starting nine and registering 20 tackles. He was placed on injured reserve in Week 16 with a minor knee injury. Franklin can likely be had on another cheap one-year deal. Chargers NT Aubrayo Franklin will "probably be out for a couple weeks" with a bone bruise in his knee. Franklin was originally believed to have a foot injury. It's a big blow for the reeling Chargers, and should significantly weaken their No. 2 run defense. Playing under a one-year, $890,000 contract, Franklin has graded out as Pro Football Focus' 16th best defensive tackle with 10 weeks in the books"
If Franklin does nothing more than hold down the fort next year until Chapman is 100%, then this signing will be worth it. Franklin is described as a "pure" run stopper.
@Payton Boy I hope you are being facetious!
"Franklin appeared in 12 games, starting nine, last year before landing on injured reserve with a knee injury." - rotoworld
@cwjwl You're right, it indeed is what it is, and with that tweet Irsay is showing everyone that he learned the wrong lesson from 2011. And that bothers me. It really does.
Now, I fear that at the end of Luck's reign, Indy's going to limp along with a mid-round pick and get stuck in mediocrity hell because of the bad lesson. Oh well, maybe by that point I'll be too senile to care...
@JayScott1195 Thank you.
@thellammajockey Since its a 2 year deal, is expect nearly all the guaranteed money to be on the first year. Pagano doesn't mind carrying 3 quarterbacks. Did it last year. The Colts did it before Polian, and did it last year. We've all gotten used to the team just carrying 2 qb's for such a long time, it seems strange to keep 3.
I mean, Irsay straight up said he wasn't talking about Cruz, so that ship has sailed. Harnish will be on the PS like last year.
@codrutc I think he'll be an asset for Luck. Neither his OC not QB coach have played NFL ball, so he will come in handy in film rooms, practice, and much like Stanton last year, Luck will be able to go to him during games. But my problem is the same as yours: the price. I think whichever writer does a more in-depth piece on him will focus on that. It's a lot of $$$ when there are other holes on the roster.
@Payton No. I think that myself.
Don't get me wrong; it's not about Hasselbeck. If there was a backup to be had, he's one I'd say to go for. He's an outstanding team-first guy, and would be an asset on any roster just by dint of his work ethic and outstanding character alone.
The thing is, I just think spending much beyond minimum dough on a backup is bad, period. People keep complaining about the 2011 season, but as Mike Chappell pointed out, what would a better backup have brought? A 5-11 record and no Andrew Luck? That's not a good trade off. Furthermore, you're not going to get a backup who'll be capable of doing anything more than win a couple of games for you when you have a marquee QB in the stable. Your starter's going to suck up all the playing time and you'll lose that backup once his contract is up. Plus, that money can profitably go elsewhere. I'm just flabbergasted fans don't seem to get any of that, thinking 2011 was the norm and the entire freakin' decade before that was the aberration.
Anyway, while I like Hasselbeck a LOT, I think it's a waste of money. Unless you're running New England's system, if you have a backup who could truly take the place of your starter, you've got QB problems to begin with. And if you're putting real money into a guy who won't play, then you're not spending wisely.
Better to have capable backups at positions where they'll actually rotate in frequently. Not at QB. People just need to accept that a season without their QB roasts their record anyway and just settle for a good draft pick. That's the better way to go about things.
@Payton $4mil is a hell of a lot for a backup. In a year or two, they won't need an experienced backup. The problem is that right now, they still have some expensive holes to fill. I can't do anything about that, so I'm focusing on what he brings, though admittedly, I wish it had come at a cheaper price.
@thellammajockey @DougEngland I love the idea of Hass as trade bait. His contract would be a good price for a starter, and there will be some desperate teams toiling in a qb-less wasteland by the trade deadline.
I think that Hasselbeck is a complete luxery pickup. While Luck is on his rookie contract and Irsay is willing to spend the money, I see no harm. (Unless it kept the Colts from getting a stud wideout.)
You make great points, but I have lately not even considered the backup QB. With Peyton's teams, I never felt we could win without him, so why waste the money on a "name" backup.
With Luck, I think it is getting close to the point we can't win without him, but perhaps if he was only go to be out for a few games, someone like Hasselback could get a win or two to conceivably save the season.
Franklin did an awesome job with the 49ers a few years back before he signed a one year deal with the Saints. Frankly I was surprised the Colts didn't go after him last year given his cost and the fact that Chapman had knee surgery early on.
@cwjwl Sad face. No i was not. I remember him from SF. Didn't realize he blew out his knee last season.
@MarcusDugan I'm not sure why people don't understand this move. It makes great sense to me.
@Payton Harnish was on the active roster last year. He only moved to the PS when injuries to other positions mounted. They said they didn't like dangling him out on the ps where other teams could sign him.
@AJ_ Pretty much my exact line of thinking. In my view, if we need a backup who can win a game or two to salvage the season, the season probably isn't one I'd want to salvage in the first place.
@MarcusDugan @Payton Oh I love what Hasselbeck brings to the table. I can't fault you for looking at that at all. I just think the $4 million could have been allocated to something a little more influential, like another OG (McGlynn and Link, yuck) or some depth at OT (Sowell or Ziemba?).
Basically I just want Irsay to sign Brandon Moore and maybe another DB without injury concerns.
@DougEngland This coincides with my point of you on the acquisition. I just wanted to add that as far as the WR, Irsay apparently clarified that the WR they were trying to sign was a free agent, not on other team.
@Payton Law of averages says, 3 guys with knee issues, at least 1 has to be alright? Right? Anyone?
@Gerb3X I agree. People forget they payed like 3 mil for Stanton last year. Thank goodness they didn't need him in a real game.
@MarcusDugan plan is just revolting. I mean, you wouldn't go without car insurance or life insurance, right? Same thing.
@MarcusDugan Think about it. Some years your team just doesn't have any talent & sucks. But to win 2 games because the org. has zero backup
@JayScott1195 I guess people would've been more excited if it had been a wide receiver. I suppose I can't blame them
@JayScott1195 I don't know, I guess the price. I am getting roasted in the comments for being so positive about it in the article
@MarcusDugan @Payton If they don't like him dangling on the PS, they sure kept him there for awhile. They expanded the roster one spot to account for a 3rd QB, but that doesn't really make it worthwhile to keep on the active roster over the course of the season. I'd bet even money he gets sent back down after being inactive.
@hankster @codrutc You know, I tend to be pretty positive when I do the news stuff. But that's a darn good point. I think the biggest disappointment about this signing is that it's expensive, but still doesn't fill a need in the starting lineup. I have a feeling Hass will just be here for a year and retire.
@codrutc @AJ_ Honestly I don't think the team is talented enough to win anything but easy games with an average QB, so I just see it as an expensive, unnecessary investment. If we limit the offense and only ask Hasselbeck to do limited things at QB if Luck goes down, we'd be better off paying Harnish to do less.