Colts Bench Matt Ryan

It’s another year and another mess for the Colts at quarterback. This year’s attempt at stabilizing the position was 37 year old Matt Ryan, formerly of the Falcons, who has had a difficult time transitioning away from Atlanta and into the Colts offense. He will be replaced by Sam Ehlinger, a 6th round draft pick of the Colts in 2021. It is a move that may signal a last ditch effort to salvage the perception about the ability to find a QB as the team also has veteran Nick Foles on the roster.

If someone ever made a Wikipedia page about the phrase “QB hell” it would be filled with examples from the Colts the last few seasons. Since the abrupt retirement of Andrew Luck their carousel of expensive and more often than not underperforming QB’s have included Jacoby Brissett, Carson Wentz, and now Ryan.

No team has spent more in salary cap dollars on QB’s since 2019 than the Colts, who have put over $133 million into the position. In terms of actual salary the team has spent the 4th most in the NFL trailing the Rams, Cowboys, and Vikings.

TeamCap SpentDead CapTotal Cap
Colts$103,198,472$30,201,215$133,399,687
Lions$102,210,801$25,230,706$127,441,507
Seahawks$97,877,388$26,466,535$124,343,923
Vikings$118,391,901$1,700,326$120,092,227
Commanders$97,562,957$20,429,843$117,992,800
Packers$117,404,478$96,922$117,501,400
Falcons$75,054,866$40,680,806$115,735,672
49ers$106,143,124$2,813,150$108,956,274
Raiders$103,625,481$2,071,772$105,697,253
Steelers$93,889,679$10,821,655$104,711,334

Here is the breakdown of how the team has spent its salary on the position on the top 9 QBs since 2019.

PlayerCapCash
Jacoby Brissett$29,837,500$29,400,000
Philip Rivers$25,000,000$25,000,000
Andrew Luck$24,800,000$12,000,000
Carson Wentz$21,305,882$21,305,882
Matt Ryan$18,705,882$24,705,882
Brian Hoyer$7,000,000$7,000,000
Nick Foles$2,600,000$2,600,000
Jacob Eason$1,602,264$1,663,066
Sam Ehlinger$1,468,685$1,534,037

In addition to the costs on the salary cap the Colts have also used draft capital to acquire Wentz and Ryan. Wentz cost the team a 1 and a 3 (they received a 3 back when they traded him away), while Ryan cost a 3rd round pick.

The team still owes millions more to Ryan if he does not retire after the season. Ryan already has $12 million of his 2023 salary fully guaranteed. If Ryan is on the roster on the 3rd day of the 2023 league year he will earn another $17.2 million in guarantees. This salary is currently guaranteed for injury so putting Ryan on the bench will prevent that from becoming guaranteed. That would leave them with $18 million in dead money next year if Ryan does not retire and $6 million in dead money if he does retire.

All in all it is a strange move for a team that is 3-3-1 after seven games in a division that is terrible. They either believe in great things for Ehlinger or are just throwing up a prayer to avoid a bad deal getting even worse for next season.

Questions about this article? Reach Jason Fitzgerald on Twitter at @Jason_OTC