Phillip Dorsett didn’t do much in the first two seasons of his NFL career, but the New England Patriots are still the clear winners of a trade with the Indianapolis Colts that sent the third-year receiver to New England in exchange for backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
The Patriots get a speedy player who was taken in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The Colts get a quarterback who made two starts during the 2016 season as a rookie after he was taken in the third round.
Why would the Patriots make the trade? For New England, Brissett was a movable piece. The team has Tom Brady and it’s anyone’s guess how long he plans to continue playing, but as long as he’s around, it’s his show. Behind him is Jimmy Garoppolo, a young quarterback who was subject to trade rumors but not moved because the Patriots insist he’s the future for the team.
So even though Brissett looked strong as a rookie — and even led the Patriots to a 27-0 win over the Houston Texans in his first start — he’s still not a player who matters much to the team.
And in exchange for a roster spot that likely wasn’t going to be used at all in 2017, New England instead gets a speedy deep threat to add to a team that loves speedy deep threats.
The question is whether the Patriots can realize the potential of Dorsett in a way that Indianapolis never could. In two seasons, he has just 51 receptions for 753 yards and three touchdowns, but had plenty of learning to do and was likely hurt by an offense that struggled to produce while Andrew Luck dealt with injuries.
In New England, Dorsett will be primed for a breakout season.
Why would the Colts make the trade? Indianapolis has made an apparent and obvious effort to distance the franchise from the moves made by Ryan Grigson as much as possible. In the first months after Chris Ballard was hired he parted ways with Dwayne Allen, Patrick Robinson, D’Qwell Jackson and allowed plenty of other Grigson acquistions to walk in free agency.
Shipping off Dorsett — sunk costs in the eyes of the franchise — looked to be in the cards for a while. In addition to the Patriots, the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens were also reportedly in the running for the receiver.
Other Grigson first-round selections are also off the team just a few years after they were picked:
Bjoern Werner— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) September 2, 2017
Trent Richardson (trade)
Epic 3-year stretch of first rounders for the Colts. Why the roster is problematic
But the compensation for the receiver is what makes it an odd move for the Colts. For months, the team has kept quiet about the recovery of Andrew Luck and Jim Irsay suggested Friday that the problem is in Luck’s head.
The team has sounded fine with the idea of Scott Tolzien starting in his place if Luck isn’t ready to go and with a week until the opener, that appears to be the likely plan for the Colts.
So why wait until now to get a quarterback? And do the Colts believe Brissett can be a starter before Luck returns?
If the Patriots’ third-string quarterback can step in and immediately topple Tolzien for the starting role, it’s an indictment on the decision-making of the Colts brass who allowed the situation under center to remain so poor throughout the training camp. And if Brissett can’t beat out Tolzien for the job, the Colts shipped away an athletic receiver with upside for a third-string quarterback who won’t play.
Luck has struggled with injuries often in the last few seasons, so there’s a strong chance September won’t be the last time the Colts’ quarterback depth chart is important.
If the team needs to turn to a backup late in the season or in 2018, the move to acquire Brissett could be a valuable one. It really just depends if Brissett is actually good. In three games last year, he threw no touchdowns and no interceptions.
But the Colts are very fired up about his preseason performance against Giants backups, though.
Colts announce the trade and include this in their analysis of Brissett pic.twitter.com/4KUy4FDKNd— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) September 2, 2017
For now, the Patriots look like the big winners Saturday.