Jacoby Brissett has always been a backup quarterback. Come March, though, he might be the most talked about free agent in the NFL.
Tom Brady. Philip Rivers. Jacoby Brissett.
Three quarterbacks scheduled for unrestricted free agency in 2020. Two are future Hall of Famers. The other could make more than either by a considerable margin.
Brissett, 26, is entering the final year of his rookie deal with the Indianapolis Colts. After being traded from the New England Patriots following the 2016 season. In 2017, Brissett replaced an injured Andrew Luck and made 15 starts. The results were encouraging. Brissett threw for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns against seven interceptions on a putrid 4-12 squad which allowed a league-worst 52 sacks.
Now, with Luck once again dealing with injuries, Brissett could step to the fore. The differences this time are threefold. First, an innovative head coach in Frank Reich. Second, multiple years in the system/organization. Third, one of the best supporting casts in the game.
Should Brissett earn extensive playing time and thrive in Indianapolis, he’ll be the most coveted player on the free-agent market. Most young quarterbacks with a shred of talent are locked up long term by their current teams. Barring a stunning development, Luck will remain the answer for years to come for the Colts. In turn, Brissett will become a courted commodity prior to his age-27 season.
Many within the league already believe Brissett is a competent quarterback with upside. A career year would go a long way towards turning those thoughts into action for general managers looking to improve under center.
In recent years, we’ve seen quarterbacks get enormous paydays after limited action. In 2016, the Houston Texans paid Brock Osweiler $72 million over four seasons following only seven starts with the Denver Broncos. The San Francisco 49ers sent a second-round choice to the Patriots in 2017 for Jimmy Garoppolo. Also after a total of seven NFL starts, the 49ers signed Garoppolo to a five-year, $137 million contract with $74.1 million guaranteed, including $48.1 million at signing.
With both the salary cap and quarterback contracts soaring, a solid season by Brissett would land him a massive deal.
Another subplot to this is Brissett’s agent. It’s himself. Brissett has represented himself since entering the league out of North Carolina State. If he continues to and is in position to sign a large contract, general managers will be dealing directly with the player instead of typical representation.
It would be a risky play by Brissett to say the least. One side has never negotiated a contract. The other has done hundreds, if not thousands. This could make Brissett even more enticing to front offices and owners, with management seeing an opportunity to take advantage of the situation.
Come March, Brissett will have suitors regardless of playing time in 2019, but a substantial showcase would turn him into something of a sweepstakes. There are a litany of teams who will potentially be looking for a new starting quarterback, including the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans and others. Succinctly, there would be a bidding war.
Of course, all this hinges on Luck. If No. 12 finally heals from his calf strain and plays a full season, Brissett will be looking for a prove-it deal. If Luck can’t stay healthy and Brissett thrives, he’ll be the biggest name in football seven months from now.