The Indianapolis Colts almost certainly will be looking for a quarterback on the trade market in the wake of Carson Wentz's injury, but don't expect their answer to be Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers.
Wentz is set to have foot surgery and will miss between five and 12 weeks, the Colts announced Monday. With the QB out, Indianapolis has Jacob Eason, rookie Sam Ehlinger and just-signed Brett Hundley among its in-house options. Not exactly the most promising group, especially since Hundley is the only one with any experience in a regular-season game.
Garoppolo has been considered a potential trade chip for months since the 49ers selected Trey Lance No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 49ers have been adamant, however, that Garoppolo remains the starter for now, with coach Kyle Shanahan consistently emphasizing that there is no QB competition as of yet.
Jimmy G offers the 49ers the luxury of bringing Lance along at a comfortable pace, allowing him to gather a grasp of the offense before throwing him into the fire of being QB1. That luxury is something the two QBs selected ahead of him in the draft, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, aren't expected to have with their teams.
Garoppolo also isn't the only talented backup QB the Colts could pursue. Nick Foles, who played under Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich with the Philadelphia Eagles and won a Super Bowl, is with the Chicago Bears. Justin Fields and Andy Dalton also are in the QB room in Chicago, making Foles more expendable than Garoppolo.
That experience with Reich and diminished need in Chicago likely would make Foles the favorite for the Colts to make a trade to temporarily replace Wentz at QB.
There also is the matter of Garoppolo's contract. Jimmy G would count for around $25 million against the Colts' cap if he was acquired in a trade, something that wouldn't be ideal for a team already paying Wentz $20 million in 2021. Foles' cap figure is just $6.6 million for 2021.
Someone like Foles also might be able to pick up on the Colts' schemes quicker than other outside options given his history with Reich than Garoppolo, who now has nearly four full years under his belt in the 49ers' system.
The Colts could try to ride it out with one of the QBs currently in the building, but with such a strong defense (featuring a defensive line anchored by former 49er DeForest Buckner) they'll want to compete for a playoff spot this season.
Foles and Garoppolo both have taken teams to the Super Bowl, with Foles being the one who was able to come out on top back in his days with the Eagles.
Unless the 49ers get blown away by an offer this season, expect Garoppolo to remain on the roster. Even if he eventually is usurped by Lance as the starter, a backup with as much experience as Jimmy G becomes vitally important.
Garoppolo theoretically could take command of the Colts' offense and right the ship in Wentz's absence, but it's much more likely Foles or another less-costly backup becomes Indianapolis' primary trade target.
Expect the Colts to look elsewhere, and expect Jimmy G to be in a 49ers uniform through at least the end of the 2021 season.