INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts wanted Jacob Eason back on the practice squad.
Indianapolis isn’t going to get that chance. The Seattle Seahawks claimed the former fourth-round pick off waivers Wednesday, according to the NFL’s transactions wire, ending Eason’s time as a Colt after just one and a half seasons.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said Wednesday that he’d hoped Eason could continue his development on the Indianapolis practice squad, but the Colts also knew the quarterback might be headed elsewhere when they made the decision to release him off of the 53-man roster Tuesday.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Reich said before the news of Seattle’s waiver claim came through. “Jacob expressed that he likes it here, loves this team, loves the room, loves the offense, thinks he can thrive in this offense, so he’ll talk it through with his agent and make the decision that’s best for him. Obviously, I tried to encourage him that we wanted him back and hoped he would be back.”
Seattle took any decision-making out of Eason’s hands.
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Drafted in the fourth round in 2020 to be a developmental quarterback, Eason was given every chance to win the Colts’ primary backup job behind Carson Wentz this season and held that role for the first two games, only to lose the job to veteran Brett Hundley and sixth-round rookie Sam Ehlinger.
“I had a long talk with Jacob yesterday,” Reich said. “I really still think very much of Jacob. It was a very close, hard decision. We just talked about, ‘Hey, let’s just continue to get better.’ … I think there is a lot of room for growth and tremendous upside with Jacob.”
The physical tools Eason possesses, the prototypical size and plus arm strength, were the reasons the Colts took a chance on the former University of Washington quarterback in the first place.
But he had trouble learning the offense, processing information and getting the ball out of his hand, skills Ehlinger displayed right from the beginning in Indianapolis.
“I just think for Jacob that it’s just more time,” Reich said. “More time playing games, playing football in those competitive situations, and I think he’s going to have a very long and good career. I think he’s got the talent to do it.”
Ehlinger suffered a sprained knee in the preseason finale, but he’s been practicing the past three weeks as he gets ready to return from injured reserve.
Ultimately, the Colts decided Ehlinger was a better developmental prospect as a backup.
“He’s the guy who can move around a little bit more,” Reich said. “He’s a very poised guy, played in a lot of big games and had a very productive college career, even more tape to look at and see. … They’ve both worked hard, they kind of share reps as far as running the scout team.”
But Eason faltered in his NFL debut, tossing a bad interception in a critical situation against the Los Angeles Rams, and the game got the wheels turning for the Colts that they might need a more experienced quarterback in that role.
Brett Hundley, who was signed early in training camp and didn’t take a lot of practice snaps until the regular season, will likely be Wentz’s primary backup for the rest of the season. Hundley took over for Eason after the Rams game and has been in the No. 2 role ever since.
“We just grew more comfortable with Brett being the backup,” Reich said. “He gets here, OK, we feel like he knows this system, and we’ve gotten to know him a little bit. We kind of knew who he was coming in, but now, OK, we’re comfortable. We feel like that’s the right answer, have an experienced guy as the backup.”
Eason could have been the backup if he’d been able to hold onto the role.
Instead, he’s headed back to Seattle, hoping a fresh start can get his career back on the right track.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Seahawks claim Colts QB Jacob Eason off of waivers