(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)
On Tuesday, the Tennessee Titans released three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck when they couldn’t come to an agreement to restructure his contract. Not long after, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that ten different teams, the Cardinals, Bills, Bears, Browns, Bengals, Giants, 49ers, Saints, Buccaneers, and the Colts had already shown interest in signing the fourteen-year veteran. Then, USA Today narrowed down that long list of suitors to just one, Indianapolis, where Hasselbeck was already close to signing his two-year, $8 million contract.
Hasselbeck began his career in 1999 as a sixth round pick and a backup to Brett Favre, and spent the past two seasons in Nashville with the Titans. However, he is best known for his ten seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, where he went 69-62 as a starter and earned three trips to the Pro Bowl and one Super Bowl start.
In Hasselbeck, the Colts now have a playoff tested, levelheaded backup whose wealth of knowledge and situational experience will now be at Andrew Luck’s disposal. With a young starting quarterback, the value of a great sideline mentor should not be underestimated, especially one who played at a high level in his prime.
In Indianapolis, the hope is that Hasselbeck will only play in the preseason. Colts fans, save for the 2011 season, have seldom had to watch the backup quarterback play, but it is rare for a starter to be able to play every down. Should Luck miss some plays due to injury, the Colts’ new backup is still capable of playing good, smart football. He may not be slinging too many deep passes, but Pep Hamilton’s offense is more about precision and timing, which makes Hasselbeck a much better fit than he would’ve been last season.
In his two years with the Titans, Hasselbeck threw for 4,928 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions with an 82 quarterback rating and an average of 205 yards per game. Those numbers likely won’t get anyone into the Pro Bowl, but they are exemplary for a backup. At least a couple of teams in the league would love to get that kind of production out of their young starters, but at nearly 38, a winning team and a good situation must have been more appealing. Welcome to Indianapolis, Mr. Hasselbeck.
Now, we can all go back to speculating on Jim Irsay’s tweets of mystery wide receivers and mega deals.
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