“I don’t want to create the misconception that we are never going to hit free agency. That’s not right,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said at the NFL Combine, before going on to explain that it’s all about signing the right players, especially from a locker room standpoint.
That was an important clarification, and it’s worth pointing out again now a few weeks later, since Ballard has been very involved in the free agent process. In fact, it’s the most involved the Colts have ever been in free agency.
According to Colts.com’s Kevin Bowen, the ten players signed so far in free agency are the most in franchise history, topping the eight signed in 2013. Furthermore, the ten free agents signed matches the total number the team signed from 2003-2011.
It’s unclear what the time frame is to be considered within this category of free agent signings, but either way it helps to illustrate the fact that the Colts have been very, very involved so far. They’ve signed ten free agents, re-signed three of their own, and still have a significant amount of cap room left to work with. So 13 players signed so far, and perhaps a few more still to come.
The Colts are able to sign so many guys not just because they had a lot of cap room, but also because they aren’t signing players to big-money deals. In fact, only three of the signings will have a significant cap hit this year, and they’re the top players Indy has signed (Jack Doyle, Jabaal Sheard, and John Simon). Other than that, Chris Ballard has mainly been signing guys to come in and compete, both for starting jobs and for roster spots. Because of that, it gives the Colts the opportunity to add more free agents instead of spending big money for a couple of them. And, of course, the fact that the Colts have so many needs means that they need to add more free agents to try to fill some of those holes.
It remains to be seen how Ballard’s strategy will work out, but it can’t be said that he’s avoiding free agency - because the Colts have been busier in the process than they’ve ever been.