If you could sum up Chris Ballard’s mantra since he’s been with the Indianapolis Colts in one word, that might be it. Ballard has preached over and over the need to improve the competition level of this Colts roster from top to bottom, and that has been a driving factor in a lot of his free agency moves so far.
That was also a big emphasis while Ballard was with the Chiefs, and they built a very competitive roster there. That’s what he’s trying to do now with the Colts, but it’s going to take time and it’s going to be a continual process - one that will involve more moves than simply traditional free agent signings and draft picks.
“Well we’ve added some good players in free agency that I think’s going to create competition,” Ballard explained on Friday during an interview with 1070 the Fan’s JMV. “Understand now, that was four years in the building in KC. And it takes time. But we’re going to continue to fuel the fire. You’ll see, we’ll be active. We’ll be very active after the draft, we’ll be very active at the 53 cutdown day, we’ll be active working guys out, we’ll always be looking to add competition. You can’t ever rest thinking that it’s good enough.”
One of the myths of team building is that it can only mainly happen in the main free agency period and the draft. While that is when a lot of the higher profile guys change teams, the process of improving the roster is a year-long thing. In that regard, Chris Ballard will place an emphasis on rookie free agent signings after the draft and on signings after the roster cutdowns later this summer, too. So when the draft ends, we’ll likely see the Colts sign a number of players that they are interested in bringing in to add compeition. And later this year, when the rosters are cutdown (especially to 53 players), then the Colts will likely make a couple of waiver claims to add some more competition to the group. And then even after that, the Colts will be bringing in various players for workouts that perhaps could wind up getting a shot on the roster if it’s the right situation. The bottom line: it’s a year-long effort.
This isn’t some special or radical philosophy that Chris Ballard is bringing to the Colts, because it’s something that every team does. Just last year, for example, the Colts were active both in rookie free agency and in 53-man cutdown claims under Ryan Grigson, and that’s when they found guys like Rashaan Melvin (signing after cutdown). But it’s important to keep in mind when it comes to Chris Ballard and this Colts team, especially since they are in the midst of a rebuild. They’ve already made a lot of free agent signings and they’ll have seven picks in the upcoming draft, but that certainly won’t be the extent of their moves this year as they attempt to put together as competitive of a roster as possible.