The Indianapolis Colts learned the hard way how valuable a backup quarterback can be when Peyton Manning was sidelined for the entire 2011 season as he recovered from his 4th neck surgery in 2 years. Without a starting-caliber backup, the Colts went 2-14 that year, with the number-1 overall pick in the 2012 draft as a consolation prize.
The recent departure of backup QB Drew Stanton to the Arizona Cardinals left them with only one backup QB in Chandler Harnish. That apparently didn’t sit well with GM Ryan Grigson.
Enter 14-year veteran, Matt Hasselbeck.
After being released by Tennessee for cap reasons on Tuesday, March 19, the Colts wasted no time signing Hasselbeck to a 2-year contract worth an estimated $8 million. Head coach Chuck Pagano reportedly played a key role in the Colts’ decision to acquiring Hasselbeck.
When asked about his reason for wanting to join his 4th NFL team, especially with slim odds of actually playing a meaningful snap, he replied that the possibility of winning a Super Bowl ring played a big factor in his decision.
He will turn the ripe old age of 38 in September. In his 14-year career he has passed for nearly 35,000 yards, 29,434 set a franchise record for the Seahawks. He is a three-time Pro Bowler who was instrumental to leading the Seahawks to Super Bowl XL. He has 80 wins and 72 losses as a starting quarterback.
He was selected in sixth round (187th overall) of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. He would have counted $5.5 million against the Titans’ cap this year. But since the team has already decided Jake Locker will be the starter, it apparently didn’t make sense to pay a backup QB that kind of money.
He knows the Colts are set at quarterback. Said Hasselbeck of his decision on Tuesday, “Obviously the reputation that the Colts organization has and the kind of player that Andrew Luck is, more and more it made sense. I would also say that the Colts interest from that moment that I got the phone call to (Tuesday) morning when I signed the contract, their interest just felt the most consistent and it just felt right. There’s 100 reasons why it’s a good idea and I could probably go through them all. But I can just say that I think it’s an obvious fit for a lot of different reasons and I’m really looking forward to it.”
While there will be those who question the size of the contract, there is no doubt that Hasselbeck will bring a wealth of experience and mentoring ability, which should only help in the development of 3rd stringer Chandler Harnish and the already precocious Andrew Luck.
Barring an injury to Luck, Hasselbeck will not get much meaningful playing time, other than perhaps to play mop-up duty for games that are already in the bag. But after 14 years in the NFL, it’s finally time for him to play a secondary role to an up-and-coming, young quarterback.
Reflecting on his career as a quarterback, Hasselbeck said, “I’m just really thankful for all the different (quarterbacks) that poured in me and shared with me (their insights), some of the good, some of the bad,” “I can say what’s probably been the most enjoyable, whatever that makeup is with the (quarterbacks) coach and the three (quarterbacks), or however many guys, when that group is really strong and sort of in a fun way competitive with each other and also just like tight, it makes the whole season fun. I think it really can permeate through the team in a positive way.”
As it stands now, he is an $8 million dollar insurance policy, and one heck of a mentor.