This certainly qualifies as an unexpected development. The Indianapolis Colts placed starting quarterback Carson Wentz on the team's COVID-Reserve List on Tuesday afternoon. There is now some confusion regarding Wentz's availability for Sunday's crucial contest against the Las Vegas Raiders. The league's return-to-play protocols are ever-changing when it comes to COVID-19, but Wentz is currently trending on the wrong side of questionable with the information available to us at this juncture.
Wentz's absence would qualify as a catastrophic blow while thrusting the inexperienced Sam Ehlinger into a starting spot in an important showdown. The 8-6 Colts are still in contention for the division title in the AFC South but have yet to secure a playoff spot in the AFC's cluttered wild-card race. A loss to the fellow-playoff contending Las Vegas Raiders would leave Indianapolis in a compromising position ahead of their Week 18 regular-season finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The high-alert situation has led Colts general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich to reportedly consider stooping to a rather drastic measure. According to multiple reports, the Colts are considering contacting Philip Rivers in hopes of luring him out of retirement. It qualifies as a rather shocking and peculiar development, but the Colts have no reason whatsoever to avoid exploring the possibility.
Stranger things have happened. Rivers has acknowledged his willingness to return to the league in recent months barring it qualifying as the right situation. An opportunity to return to the Colts would almost certainly check Rivers' desired boxes. Rivers performed rather admirably while quarterbacking the Colts in 2020. The nine-time Pro Bowler completed an impressive 68% of his passing attempts while throwing for 4,169 yards and 24 touchdowns. The Colts finished a respectable 11-5 while earning a much-deserved playoff berth. He would encounter the same head coach and offensive scheme he left behind just months ago. It would allow Rivers to make a quick and much-needed transition from his couch to the field.
Rivers' motivation for entertaining a potential comeback this late into the campaign would be clear and straightforward. For everything Rivers has accomplished throughout his Hall of Fame-bound career, a Super Bowl title remains elusive. Should Indianapolis secure Rivers' services, one would assume he'd be anointed the starter in Wentz's place (should Wentz be ruled OUT) against the Raiders in Week 17, and would then serve as the backup going forward.
A former NFL quarterback himself, Reich instantly bonded with Rivers a year ago and the pair may be on the verge of an exciting and unforeseen reunion. There are a ton of moving pieces in play and the Colts must respond and conduct themselves accordingly in the face of newfound adversity. A massive playoff-deciding showdown with the Raiders looms large. Even an unprepared Rivers would give the Colts a better chance to defeat the Raiders than Ehlinger would.