He’s got a great gig. Matt Hasselbeck hears that a lot.
“Some would say that,” said Hasselbeck, who will be paid $3 million for his 17th NFL season. “I mean, I get a lot of that. But I know better.”
He isn’t the typical backup. He’s been to three Pro Bowls, has started a Super Bowl and passed for 34,948 yards in a 191-game career. If he had tested free agency, he could have chosen a new address with a chance to start.
But the Colts are a Super Bowl contender, it’s another opportunity to win a ring that has eluded him, and he’s been in Indy for two seasons so he knows the system. He turns 40 in September, so time is running out on winning the ultimate prize.
Should anything happen to Luck, who has made the Pro Bowl in each of his three seasons, the Colts and Hasselbeck understand the importance of having an experienced insurance policy, someone who can still lead a title contender. And that guy would have to be prepared to step in at a moment’s notice.
“My job is to be ready to go, even though you don’t get the practice, you don’t get the reps, you’ve still got to be ready to go,” he said recently during offseason training activities.
The Colts obviously wanted him. While media speculated on the team addressing numerous needs, particularly on defense, the team agreed to terms with Hasselbeck on Feb. 26. The commitment, so early in the offseason process, raised the eyebrows of critics who were convinced the Colts needed to spend that money elsewhere.
“The tough decision was if I was going to wait until free agency started or not,” he said. “I definitely wanted to be back. I believe in what we’re doing. I really like my teammates.
“It was a good process. I think the Colts did everything, I would say, perfectly from what I was looking for. Yeah, it was good. We just had really good conversations. I think I signed early and that kind of helped give time to figure everything else out. I’m really happy it worked out.”
So Hasselbeck will keep his head in the game and continue to impart wisdom to Luck. Should the need arise to replace the ballcap with a helmet, he’s good to go.
“I will say this, it’s a lot easier to back somebody up that’s playing good football,” he said. “No one is playing better football than Andrew Luck right now. So it’s a good place to be.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.