Philip Rivers retired after 17 NFL seasons and Jacoby Brissett is unsigned, likely headed for free agency. What that means is the Indianapolis Colts have just one quarterback under contract — Jacob Eason.
While he's probably not ready to take over the team's starting job, Eason will get everything he missed during his pandemic-restricted rookie year when he returns for a second go-round with the Colts.
Mini-camp. Training camp. Exhibition games. Back-up reps. A chance to move up.
The former University of Washington turned fourth-round Colts draft pick spent this past season as an inactive player, as sort of a glorified redshirt. The guy with the powerful right arm still made points with the front office by using his idle time wisely.
"Let me tell you this about Jacob Eason, he kept his mouth shut and he worked," Colts general manager Chris Ballard said. "He was in a great quarterback room with a lot of experience and got to take all that in."
Ballard was looking for personal growth in the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Eason and he was satisfied the newcomer took full advantage of his NFL surroundings. He worked alongside proven pro quarterbacks in Rivers and Brissett, a former NFL signal-caller in Colts coach Frank Reich, an up-and-coming quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady and the departed offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, who was recently hired as the Philadelphia Eagles head coach.
“I got to visit with him for about 30 minutes the other day. I asked him, ‘How did you grow? What did you learn?’ " Ballard said. "He had a great answer that just watching Philip, Jacoby, Frank, Nick and Marcus talk ball, how they carried themselves, how they worked, how they were professionals, all of that was something that he absorbed.”
What remains to be seen is how Eason handles the fast pace of the NFL under fire. He has the size, the arm and a year under his belt.
He needs to show a greater aptitude for the game that's required at the pro-football level. Such as processing situations and handling pressure, something he didn't always master at the UW.
"We liked him when we drafted him," Ballard said of Eason. "We think he’s really talented. But it was such a different year [no true offseason program] to really evaluate him in the bullets. We still have to go through that with Jacob.”
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