The Colts apparently are not done with change after finishing 8-8 last season. The team has witnessed massive overhaul behind the scenes in the coaching staff except Chuck Pagano and Rob Chudzinski and the retention of GM Ryan Grigson. Slowly, but surely, the team has started to reveal some of the moves that will be happening once the new the season starts. Reports surfaced on Sunday that 40 year old Matt Hasselbeck is not in the plans for the Colts in 2016. The move comes not as a total surprise to those who follow the team even on the heels of Pagano stating he’d love to keep number 8 around if he wanted to keep playing.
Hasselbeck played extremely well coming in for the injured Andrew Luck in the 2015 season and thanks to him saved what could have been a disastrous season (ask the Cowboys after they lost Romo). The wins he was able cobble together came at costly price however, as he was battered, beaten, and pummeled behind an offensive line that finished middle of the pack, but actually considered one of the worst in the league. So why does it make sense for the team to move on from Hasselbeck? Mostly because he is an unrestricted free agent and is turning 41 years old in September. The team also was able to get a sense of what it might look like with others holding the clipboard behind Luck. The team signed Josh Freeman (a former first round pick by Tampa Bay) before the last game of the regular season and he impressed the team enough to presumedly make him the defacto back-up with Charlie Whitehurst also in the mix. Freeman makes a lot of sense for the team as he is closer to Andrew Luck in terms of size and style. If properly motivated (which has been a knock against him) he should prove to be a competent back up plan for the team. They will also save a lot of money as Matt Hasselbeck was not a cheap insurance plan even though he proved to be worth the money last season.
The team has decided that now seems to be time to change course and get younger and cheaper as a whole. Freeman instilled enough faith for the decision to move on from Hasselbeck and this is one of those areas that Irsay gave a mandate to Grigson when he came over after witnessing what happened when Peyton went down in 2011. Matt was the perfect move for the new regime as it provided a competent veteran to play if something happened to Luck (like last season) while also providing a good mentor for the new quarterback coming in as a starting rookie quarterback. Hasselbeck had seen just about everything the NFL had to offer and now Luck is much more seasoned and probably doesn’t need the sounding board any more. The Colts just need someone to come in and not lose the game if Luck were to get banged up or get sidelined for an extended time and that’s what Josh Freeman is expected to do.
As a fan, I want to thank Matt Hasselbeck for being the ultimate professional and mentor to Andrew Luck since his arrival. By all accounts Hasselbeck was well liked and was a great teammate. He even adopted the city of Indianapolis very positively since joining the team. I also appreciate his toughness (as witnessed last season) by doing what he was expected to do and keep the team from spiraling out of control without its franchise player. Hasselbeck just kept on playing not matter how sick or banged up he was and put the team first. I’m not sure that he is done entirely, but if he is he’s deserved it and will always be remembered in Indy as one of the good guys. Thanks Matt and good luck with whatever it is you decide to do!