Signing Tom Brady sets a precedent of success in Indianapolis

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady show respect to one another following an away game at Gilette Stadium.

Photo used with permission of The Independent

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady show respect to one another following an away game at Gilette Stadium.

In the past couple of weeks, rumors have swirled that Tom Brady is leaving the New England Patriots, where he has won six super bowls, made 14 pro bowl appearances and won three regular-season MVPs.

Brady’s relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belicheck seems tumultuous following the Patriots’ first wild card playoff loss since 2009. Furthermore, according to the Bleacher Report, Brady has cleared out his family suite at Gillette Stadium and his family has moved to Connecticut. With these rumors, naturally, there will be speculation as to Brady’s next destination if he does leave the Patriots.

On Jan. 2nd on his radio show The Herd, Fox Sports Analyst Colin Cowherd said he believes the Indianapolis Colts would be the perfect destination for Brady as his career winds down. In comparison to Colts legend Peyton Manning’s move to the Denver Broncos, the Colts possess a well-respected coach and general manager, a strong offensive line and defense and playbook similar to that of New England, making a transition relatively easy for Brady. And the statistics support Cowherd’s claims.

According to PFF, the Colts boast the third-best offensive line in the NFL, allowing 32 sacks throughout the season. Quentin Nelson has been the highest-rated left guard in the NFL the past two seasons, and all five linemen played over 1,000 snaps together demonstrating good chemistry. This offensive line can prevent Brady from taking major hits, which is vital as he continues to age, turning 43 this year. In comparison to Manning’s move to Denver, the Broncos had the fourth-best offensive line in 2012, Manning’s first year, according to PFF.

The Colts passing defense needs help, but this help could come from the draft. Yet they do have an arguably elite pass rush led by All-Pro Darius Leonard. In 2019 the Colts allowed the seventh-fewest rushing yards, the ninth-lowest yards per carry and the third-fewest rushing touchdowns.

In preparation for the draft, the Colts are in desperate need of a strong receiving core. When healthy T.Y. Hilton is a tier-one receiver, leading the league in yards in 2016, but a slew of injuries to Hilton and the rest of the receiving core has left the Colts scrambling at the position. Luckily, this year’s draft class is bursting with talent at the wide receiver position, according to Colts Wire. A stronger receiving core is necessary for Brady to have success.

The Colts have the 13th pick in the draft, and CBS Sports projects only two wide receivers going before the 13th spot, leaving a large pool of talent available should the Colts decide to draft a receiver.

However, it is necessary to consider if the Colts should even sign Tom Brady to begin with. Brady had a passer rating of 86.5, his lowest in a season since 2003 and ranking 20th in the league. Yet, this could be a result of a lack of receiving options, as Julian Edelman accounted for over a quarter of Brady’s passing targets in the 2019 season.

This is not entirely unlike Manning’s final season under center in Indianapolis in 2010, as he had his lowest passer rating since 2002. Following his move to Denver in the 2011 offseason, Manning had his third and second highest rated seasons in Denver in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Should the Colts decide they want to sign Brady, an essential part of making that happen is the finances. Despite his age, Brady will likely still warrant incredibly high wages, but this is a non-issue for the Colts as they have the second-most cap space going into the 2020 season. Cap space is the money available for a players contract, and the Colts head into next year with $91,846,470. According to Philly Voice, the Colts have the sixth youngest team in the league, meaning many players are still on rookie contracts and do not yet warrant large contracts, leaving plenty of money to sign Brady to a one or two-year deal.

The final thing to consider before signing Tom Brady is how the team and fanbase feel given Peyton Manning’s legacy as a Colt. It is no secret that the Patriots are the most hated NFL team in Indiana, given the storied rivalry between the two teams and quarterback throughout the 2000s.

It may seem disrespectful if Brady were to come to the Colts and win a Super Bowl in one season, matching the Super Bowls won by Manning in Indianapolis in 14 seasons. However, Manning and Brady are good friends, and it is important that the Colts set a precedent that winning is the first priority.

Of course, Brady is 42 years old and is not a long term replacement. Regardless of whether the Colts stick with Jacoby Brissett long term or draft a quarterback, the future starting Colts quarterback will need time to mature and learn. Surely, there is no better quarterback to learn from than Tom Brady, the greatest of all time.