Should Colts Have Traded for Brady Quinn?

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Kerry Collins. Kerry Michael Collins from Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  Former Penn State standout. Fifth overall pick in the NFL draft. Veteran of five NFL franchises. 40,441 career passing yards. 206 career passing touchdowns.      

When the Colts were looking at veteran options to replace the injured Peyton Manning, it was widely accepted that Kerry Collins was the most logical choice. He was an experienced starter who had played for multiple teams and thrown for approximately one trillion yards.  Despite being retired, he still outshone his competitors. 

Matt Hasselbeck had already signed with the Titans, and Jake Delhomme and Marc Bulger didn't quite fit the bill. Both have battled injuries and neither have had productive seasons in several years.  Bulger had his career year in 2006 and Delhomme's last solid campaign was in 2008.  So that was that: Collins was the guy. 

But when the Colts realized the severity of Manning's slow recovery, what if they hadn't gone the road of wily veteran? With Collins looking inaccurate, immobile, and simply overwhelmed at times in the first three games, it makes one wonder if the front office should have went the opposite direction.  Should Indianapolis have rolled the dice on a young gun instead? With the Colts 0-3, and suffering at the quarterback position, it begs the question: should the Colts have pulled the trigger on a deal for someone like Brady Quinn?

When looking at such an idea, it's important to realize not just anyone would have fit the bill.  The assumption is that Manning would return next year 100% healthy. With that in mind, the key criteria for the Indianapolis Colts should have been someone who could be acquired relatively cheaply (in both a trade and salary), someone who could fill the void for one year, and preferably, someone with at least some NFL starting experience.  

These factors eliminate names like Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, Bruce Gradkowski, or Matt Leinart.  In other words, individuals who were fighting for a starting gig, would cost too much, or simply shown they were not that good. These factors also dispose of potential candidates Derek Anderson, Brodie Croyle, and the ever lingering Kyle Boller. When scouring the seas of backup quarterbacks, one name seemed to surface above the rest:  Brady Quinn of the Denver Broncos. Stuck behind Orton, and fighting with Tim Tebow and Adam Weber during training camp, Quinn seemed like the ideal candidate. He had starting experience, he wouldn't cost much money, and he, potentially, could have been acquired at a good value.   

Another choice could have been former Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards.  Most recently with Oakland, Edwards name popped up when the Raiders selected Terrelle Pryor in this year's supplemental draft.  Edwards best showed off his ability during his 2008 season with the Bills.  In 14 games he completed 65.5% of his passes for 2699 yards and 11 touchdowns.  He also ran the ball 36 times for 117 yards and three scores.  However, he did turn the ball over as well, throwing 10 interceptions and losing five fumbles.  Edwards showed flashes of a bright future and his overall rating on the year was 85.4, but he could never harness his minimal success and was benched the following year.  Edwards is only 27 and is Stanford graduate, but I don't believe he would have been the right choice.    

And that brings us back to Mr. Quinn.  The former Notre Dame superstar and former first round pick is only 26 and still looking for a chance to prove he belongs in the NFL.  Ever since he was bounced from the Browns, he has been stuck in a back up role in Denver.  He is set to make $700,000 this year and will be a free agent after the season.  It could have been an ideal match.  The Colts receive a young mobile quarterback to step in and take the reigns for a year and Quinn gets a chance to prove his worth throwing to a premier set of weapons in Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie and the rest of the receiving corps. 

I have always felt that Quinn received the short end of the stick while in Cleveland.  In 2008 Quinn was part of a quarterback carousel for the Browns, being one of four players who took snaps for Cleveland.  In three games Quinn went 45 for 89 for 518 yards along with two touchdowns and two interceptions.  He only completed 50.6 of his passes and his rating on the year was 66.6, neither stat being of the earth shattering superstar in the making variety.  But he was playing for a Browns team that was built to be a power running team with Jamal Lewis at running back. And his top receiving weapons were Braylon Edwards, who had a 40% catch rate and Football Outsiders ranked 77 out of 79 among wide receivers with 50 or more passes, and Kellen Winslow who missed six games. 

In 2009 Quinn earned the starting job and was given an opportunity to showcase his skills that made him a star at the college level.  It didn't turn out well.  Within three games he was replaced as the starter, only to regain the role later in the year.  Overall, the season did not bode well for Quinn.  Over ten games he completed 53.1% of his passes for 1339 yards along with eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He flashed some mobility running 20 times for 98 yards and a score.  And he did have a career day in week 11 against the Lions, throwing for 304 yards and four touchdowns, but it was not enough as the lowly Browns went 5-11 on the season and Quinn finished the season with a 67.2 quarterback rating.   

But once again, the odds were stacked against him. The Browns were still a running team first with Lewis, Jerome Harrison and Joshua Cribbs all in tow. Even worse, there was no clear number one receiver for Quinn to throw to. To call his receiving corps substandard would be an insult to those truly below average. 

Names like Mohamed Massaquoi, Chansi Stuckey, Mike Furrey, and Steve Heiden were just a few of Quinn's targets. Winslow was long gone and Edwards only saw action in four games.  Massaquoi led the team with 624 receiving yards for a whopping 39 yards a game.  Harrison was the teams second leading receiver and Stuckey came in third with 19 catches for 198 yards. Just for comparative sake, Donald Brown nearly matched those numbers in Indianapolis as a back up running back and the teams sixth leading receiver.  
It was not a successful year for Brady Quinn.  But there were some tiny flashes of solid play at quarterback.  Enough of them to interest the Colts in making a move? Apparently not.  But then again when the Colts realized how poorly Manning was recovering, they probably figured it was too far into the preseason to go out and seek a trade, and more realistically did not want to give up anything meaningful for a one year rental.  So they followed what they considered the best option and convinced Kerry Collins to get up off the couch and join the blue and white. 

Now the Colts are 0-3 and have many questioning their approach. Should they have gone for youth over experience? Should they have traded for Brady Quinn? 

He would have been better than Collins and Painter.

It would be impossible to be worse.