- The Indianapolis Colts waived second-year quarterback Jacob Eason
- Eason, a fourth-round pick in 2020, had previously emerged as a possible candidate to succeed Carson Wentz
- With respect to Sam Ehlinger, the Colts may have just committed themselves to Wentz long-term
The Indianapolis Colts certainly didn’t expect a 2-4 start to the 2020 season, especially not after acquiring former Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Wentz in an offseason trade.
This is where the Colts stand, however, and they can only hope that a Week 6 rout of the miserable Houston Texans will turn their campaign around. At least Wentz, who has quietly looked sharp in his first season since leaving the Philadelphia Eagles, can sleep soundly knowing the team just committed to his long-term future at quarterback.
The Colts waived Jacob Eason, who opened the season as Carson Wentz’s backup
The backup quarterback is the most celebrated player on any struggling team. Fans chant and tweet for the head coach — in this case, Frank Reich — to bench the starter and see what the second-stringer can do if given a chance.
Colts fans briefly saw Jacob Eason, a fourth-round pick in 2020, in Week 2. The Washington product, who earned rave reviews during training camp and the preseason, went 2-of-5 and threw a late loss in a 27-24 loss to Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams.
Although Wentz missed the final snaps that day with an ankle injury, he returned to the lineup in Week 3 and has taken every offensive snap since.
It might be a long time before Colts fans see the former blue-chip prospect in person again. When the Colts activated rookie quarterback and sixth-round pick Sam Ehlinger off injured reserve, the team waived Eason in a corresponding move.
The Seattle Seahawks claimed Eason and added him to their practice squad. Reich publicly said he hoped the team could have kept the second-year quarterback around on their practice squad.
Eason’s departure could hint the Colts are finally sold on Wentz
When the Colts drafted Eason in 2020, we must remember that Philip Rivers was entering his lone season in Indianapolis. If the Los Angeles Chargers legend didn’t return in 2021 (and he didn’t), Eason could have emerged as a potential option to either compete for a starting job or serve as a backup, and he wound up doing the latter.
If the Colts are parting ways with Eason now, it means they’re starting to feel extremely comfortable with Wentz’s future in Indianapolis. With how well the Washington product played over the summer, Reich and general manager Chris Ballard surely could have manipulated the roster — even if it meant cutting Brett Hundley, the current backup quarterback — to keep Eason and Ehlinger around.
Then again, the Colts had seen enough of Eason to where the team rendered him inactive in Week 6. It’s clear he didn’t live up to what they had hoped, and the Colts cut their losses where they could, which is unfortunate given that they invested a fourth-round pick on him a year ago.
In spite of a battered offensive line, Wentz has completed 64.2% of his passes for 1,545 yards, nine touchdowns, and a single interception thus far. He’s apace for career-high 4,378 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. It’s hard to fully blame the Colts’ 2-4 start on a quarterback who is on track to record his second-highest completion percentage and isn’t turning the ball over.
Colts owner Jim Irsay openly questioned Wentz ahead of a Week 3 loss to the rival Tennessee Titans, both in part because the quarterback is unvaccinated and because of his injury history. He’s remained healthy in recent weeks and has not had any further COVID issues.
If the Colts hope to salvage their 2021 season and return to the postseason for the third time in four years, they’ll need the North Dakota State product to continue his hot streak. As for Eason, he’s headed to a Seahawks team that could miss the postseason for only the second time since 2012.
Colts fans should hope Ehlinger becomes the next Jim Sorgi
We’re not going to go so far as to suggest that Wentz will be the Colts’ next Peyton Manning. Even suggesting he’ll be their next Andrew Luck is a bit much — and given how injuries destroyed the 2012 No. 1 overall pick’s career, that probably isn’t an ideal comparison.
With that said, the Colts and their fans should hope Ehlinger, a standout at the University of Texas, becomes the next Jim Sorgi. Older fans will remember Sorgi as Manning’s longtime backup who rarely saw the field and spent most of the year holding a clipboard. The Wisconsin product completed 63.5% of his 156 pass attempts for 929 yards, six touchdowns, and an interception in 16 games, all off the bench, from 2004-09.
If Wentz stays healthy and continues performing at a high level, the Colts won’t need Ehlinger to see the field too often. That’s the ideal life for a backup quarterback, especially a young one who can sit behind the 2017 Pro Bowler and develop.
If you’re still skeptical, just ask Sorgi. He retired with something that the likes of Cam Newton, Dan Marino, Kirk Cousins, and many other successful quarterbacks don’t have: a Super Bowl ring. We’ll see if Ehlinger can make a similar claim in the coming years.