Will Andrew Luck return as franchise QB in 2018?

With Andrew Luck expected to play in 2018, the Colts likely won't be active in pursuing a quarterback in free agency. AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King

With free agency approaching (March 14), we're analyzing the quarterback position on the Indianapolis Colts:

2018 cap hits of top returnees:

Andrew Luck: $24 million

Jacoby Brissett: $760,076

Pending free agents: Scott Tolzien

Key stat: What was supposed to be an established position with Luck has basically been a revolving door for the Colts because of injuries to their franchise quarterback since the 2015 season. Luck has missed 26 games over the past three seasons, including the entire 2017 season. The Colts have used six quarterbacks -- Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst, Josh Freeman, Ryan Lindley, Tolzien and Brissett -- since 2015. The Colts still aren’t in the clear with Luck because there hasn’t been a guarantee that he’ll make a full recovery from the right shoulder injury he suffered in January 2017. Starting with the 2015 season, the Colts have been 22nd, fifth (Luck played 15 games) and 30th in the NFL in passing yards.

Money matters: The Colts have spent $68.4 million on quarterbacks since 2015. Luck set the bar in the NFL when he signed a six-year, $140 million contract in June 2016. What he has given the team so far since the contract is 4,240 yards, 31 touchdowns, eight victories and a right shoulder problem.

Big picture: The Colts are optimistic that Luck will be back for next season. But at the same time, they feel comfortable if they have to turn to Brissett because Luck suffers another setback. The Colts acquired Brissett from the New England Patriots on Sept. 2, 2017, just a week before the start of the regular season. Brissett, who spent his rookie season in New England, started the final 15 games of that season. He threw for 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions while being sacked an NFL-high 52 times.

The game plan: Barring any indication that Luck won’t play next season, the Colts aren’t expected to pursue any quarterbacks in the offseason. The expectations are that Luck will be ready to play, and the Colts have Brissett and Phillip Walker, who spent last season on the practice squad, on the roster.