One of the biggest moves that Chris Ballard has made during his time as Colts GM so far is re-signing tight end Jack Doyle.
The deal was reached a couple of days before the free agency period started, and it ensured that the Colts would keep their top tight end around - and, with the trade of Dwayne Allen, Doyle now becomes the unquestioned starter.
Doyle was a guy that Colts fans really wanted the team to bring back, and the Colts really wanted to as well. Recently, Chris Ballard gave an interview with Inside Indiana Business and spoke about the importance of bringing back Doyle.
“Jack Doyle was an important guy,” Ballard said, according to Colts.com. “He stood for everything we want to stand for. He worked. He earned his way. And had a really good season last year. I thought that deserved to be rewarded. And that’s what I want our players to understand. When you do the right things and you produce, you’re going to get rewarded for it.”
None of that should be surprising, since Ballard has talked about the importance of that aspect ever since he was hired. Basically, Ballard doesn’t want to hand contracts to guys that haven’t earned those deals, because that sends the wrong message to the other players in the locker room. He explained that very well during an interview with 1070 the Fan’s Dan Dakich at the NFL Combine this offseason.
“Just think of it this way,” Ballard explained. “If you give a guy an inordinate amount of money, a lot of money, make him one of your highest-paid players, and he has a character flaw, you have just sent a message to your locker room that it doesn’t matter. That’s the message you’ve sent. That guy has to be a guy that works, loves football, and is committed. Players respect that. Players don’t mind if you’ve paid a guy who’s earned it, who’s earned the right to make that paycheck, and who every day sacrifices with them. What players have a problem [with], in my opinion, is when you pay a guy and he hasn’t earned the right.”
That’s why Jack Doyle was so important to bring back: as Ballard said, he’s a guy who has played well and earned his way to this new contract, and players will see that. Doyle is a high character guy who is a very popular guy in the locker room who stepped up and had a career year a season ago, and that’s exactly the type of player that Ballard wants to sign in free agency.
So not only is Doyle a good player - and he most certainly is that - he’s also a good influence in the locker room and a guy who’s earned his new contract. Some of what Chris Ballard has been doing this offseason is setting the right culture and sending messages to players, and the signing of Jack Doyle helped with that effort - in addition to helping the Colts on-the-field too. That is why he was such an important guy to re-sign.