Looking At Emergency Options

Bill Polian has said he won't sign another quarterback in the wake of Peyton Manning's knee surgery, but what happens in the unlikely event Manning's recovery doesn't go as planned? Scout.com's Adam Caplan weighs in on available veteran insurance policies for the Colts, and Brad Keller offers his thoughts on potential quarterback options as well.

In his most recent best available column, NFL expert Adam Caplan ranked the available veteran quarterbacks as follows:

Daunte Culpepper — He's only had one free agent visit (Green Bay Packers) but he was offered a contract.
Byron Leftwich — He hasn't had one free agent visit which kind of tells you what teams think of him at this point.
Quinn Gray — He failed to keep a third string job with the Houston Texans so that's not a good sign. If Cleo Lemon continues to struggle, it's not out of the question Gray could wind up back with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tim Rattay
Jamie Martin — He still wants to play.
Jared Lorenzen &mdashl The New York Giants released him recently. The "hefty lefty" could still challenge for a No. 3 job with another team.
Craig Nall

However, when asked how those gentlemen would fit in with the Colts, Caplan had some very different rankings:

Gray — He did well in filling in for David Garrard last season but he got cut by Houston recently which isn't a good sign.
Culpepper — He has the most starting experience, but he also would probably want more than the veteran minimum salary, and he already turned down an offer from Green Bay.
Lorenzen — The Giants surprisingly released him recently but he could develop into a decent backup.
Leftwich — He holds on to the ball too long, which is a big reason why he gets hurt so much.
Rattay — He's more of a West Coast offense quarterback because he doesn't have a strong arm.
Martin — I'm told he still wants to play but he's really at the end of his career.


Former Jacksonville QB Quinn Gray
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Most people who follow the Colts would probably be surprised to see Gray at the top of this list, considering his abysmal performance in relief of David Garrard in the Monday night game against Indianapolis last season.

But, a closer look at the numbers shows that Gray rebounded nicely after that rough start — it's always difficult to come into a game cold, even tougher against an Indianapolis unit that was first overall in scoring defense in 2007 — and finished the season with ten touchdown passes compared to only five interceptions, two of which came in that same Monday night game.

For his career, Gray has more attempts, yards, and touchdowns than Jim Sorgi — although Sorgi has the higher career passer rating: 90.4 to 88.5 — and is only six months older.

He also has more starting experience than Sorgi, but is obviously less familiar with the offense — and, as much of a punching bag as Sorgi has become, the only quarterback on the planet that has a better understanding of the Colts offense than Sorgi is currently minus one bursa sac.

As Caplan pointed out, Culpepper has the most experience and most impressive stats of anyone on this list, but has seemingly lost his way since 2005.

He has the type of talent that is impossible to teach, though, and signing him is always a question of whether or not a team thinks he has put the past behind him and has regained his confidence. Kurt Warner went through a very unproductive and dismal spell from 2003-2006 before finally re-establishing himself in 2007 as a viable quarterback that could step in and contribute.

Will Culpepper re-discover his mojo and return to some semblance of his 2004 form?Is that a gamble the Colts are willing to take? As Caplan also pointed out, Culpepper's price tag is probably higher than anyone else on the list, so the answers to those two questions are likely: Maybe and no.

Lorenzen is, as Caplan mentioned, someone who could "develop into a decent backup" and, as such, doesn't have the experience or the skill necessary to step right in and lead the team to victory.


Colts rookie Adam Tafralis

At the very least, he has less upside and would be, at the absolute best, an even replacement for Sorgi, whereas the Colts would be looking for an upgrade over players currently on the roster.  If they're looking to hand the offense over to Sorgi, Lorenzen would be, as said, a decent backup.

Although he may be a good fit for another team, Leftwich does hold onto the ball long enough and the long wind-up on his release is not conducive to running the Indianapolis offense.

He has a fantastic arm and can be very accurate, but lacks the mobility to buy time in the pocket and the quick release necessary to be effective in Tom Moore's system.

Rattay and Martin are really only options if everyone above them on the list is unavailable.  Even at that point, it's best to wait and see how well Sorgi steps up and how Josh Betts and Adam Tafralis perform in the preseason.

One name missing from this list — no, not Brett Favre — is Shaun King.

King was on the roster for all of the minicamps, OTAs, and training camp in 2006, before being released in favor of Sorgi's familiarity with the offense and Betts' low price tag and practice squad eligibility.

He has 24 career starts — more than anyone on this list other than Culpepper and Leftwich — proved himself to be a winner under Tony Dungy in Tampa, and the system, coaches, and most of the personnel on offense have not changed since he was last under center for the Colts.

He led the team in passing yards and touchdown passes in the 2006 preseason and saw a lot of action, primarily due to a Sorgi shoulder injury.

King spent 2007 bouncing between the Arena Football League and the Canadian Football League — he was released twice — and is currently working as an analyst and an announcer for ESPN, mostly working AFL games.

He may be looking to put his playing days behind him and focus on a life after football, but his track record of success and knowledge of the Colts offense makes him worth at least a phone call — if the Colts get to that point.


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