What led to the Indianapolis Colts trading away former first-round pick Phillip Dorsett?
It’s a question with multiple layers, but general manager Chris Ballard peeled back his answer with confidence on Monday.
“Jacoby Brissett,” he told reporters, via IndianapolisColts.com.
A chuckle served as the punctuation mark before Ballard offered further explanation on the deal that hit shortly before the 4 p.m. ET 53-man roster deadline Saturday.
“We weren’t actively trying to trade Phillip,” Ballard said of Dorsett, the lightning-quick wideout previous Colts GM Ryan Grigson drafted No. 29 overall in 2015. “We had calls about Phillip, but Jacoby Brissett was the best option.”
With that best option on the table from the New England Patriots, the Colts agreed to part ways with Dorsett after two seasons and 51 catches, 753 yards and three touchdowns. And like that, in came Brissett, fresh off a preseason finale in which he went 28-of-39 passing for four touchdowns with an interception and a juking, four-yard TD scamper against the New York Giants.
The Patriots struck while the iron was at its hottest, and who could blame them. In the Colts they found an ideal suitor for the 2016 third-round quarterback.
With Scott Tolzien set to open the regular season as the starter while Andrew Luck continues his way back from shoulder surgery, much is in wait-and-see mode under center for Indianapolis. Much could go awry in a hurry. But it wasn’t only the current circumstances that sold Ballard’s side on Brissett.
The Colts had done their homework and were thinking further down the line.
“Scott’s our starter,” Ballard affirmed. “Look, Jacoby – we have our scouts monitor every team in the league, and I think they do a great job. I thought, I mean, we’re all new together. We’ve got a couple guys I know really well on this staff. But what we do is we monitor the league. We do every team during the preseason. They’ll have divisions and teams that they’re looking at for teams that have depth, and guys that’ll get cut and guys getting traded.
“When the Jacoby situation came up, we felt we had a chance to acquire a young quarterback that we have under contract for three years that’s going to be a very good No. 2 quarterback that you can win with when he has to play,” added Ballard.
Brissett appeared in three games for New England as a rookie, starting two in the absence of Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo. The 24-year-old by way of Florida and North Carolina State went 34-of-55 for 400 yards with one ground score in that unexpected sample size, before being placed on injured reserve to have surgery on a torn right thumb ligament.
Brissett still traveled with the Patriots while on IR and rejoined the active roster for the playoff run. Yet, once perceived to be part of the organization’s future plans given the age of Brady and the contract year of Garoppolo, suddenly the 6-foot-4, 235-pound QB is part of another’s.
“It’s long-term thinking here,” Ballard noted.
The Colts view Brissett as viable reinforcement behind the 29-year-old Tolzien, who is on his fourth team since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and threw 37 passes for the Colts last season. Perhaps he will soon be more than that.
“It’s Tolzien’s job because Brissett’s got to get up to speed,” said Ballard. “But I like, and we like, Jacoby Brissett. And we think he does have upside, and we think it’s going to give us some competition at the position.”