Since Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard first arrived, we’ve known his basic approach to how he wants to build this roster. If last year was any indication — which it certainly is — of how things will become the norm, Ballard isn’t going to bring in aging veterans who are on their last competitive leg and he isn’t going to draft strictly on need.
Tuesday night at the Colts Town Hall, Ballard stacked additional visions of his philosophy about how this, and every other, offseason will be approached. About free agency, Ballard stated that he was not going to overpay for free agent acquisitions. More specifically, he wasn’t going to pay mid-tier players top-tier money.
Ballard on free agency: "We won't pay a mid-tier player (top-tier) money." This is a big principle he sticks to. Hasn't really overpaid for any FAs yet.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) February 20, 2018
While a couple of the free agent price tags that he payed out last offseason, very little of them have guarantees across the board. Johnathan Hankins earned $10M of his 3-year deal at signing with $4.5M guaranteed in March of this year and that’s it as far as guarantees go. Jabaal Sheard’s payout was done similarly giving him $9.5M of his $12.75M total guarantees upfront, adding a potential out before the 2018 season, and $3.25M guaranteed on March 18th as well.
Other than that, nobody else was given any second-year guaranteed money. Ballard sees the value in building through the draft, “stacking drafts on top of drafts” and stated that “that’s how you get players who are loyal to the organization.”
Ballard on the offseason: “I’m a realist. We have work to do. And I think at every position we have work to do.”— George Bremer (@gmbremer) February 20, 2018
Again reiterates he wants to build through the draft.#Colts
The Colts do have a ton of money right now, and have several options to unload some of that cash into the free agency portion of the offseason. While Ballard chooses to primarily target the draft for the long-haul players, he’s well aware that a handful of free agents, who are expected to be available March 14th, will deserve a healthy payday and I can’t imagine that he’d balk at bringing in young talent to assist in the rebuild.
Something else that Ballard told us in his very first press conference as the Colts GM is that it’s never about just one player. He reiterated the need for that approach Tuesday night as well.
Ballard reiterates it can’t be all about Andrew Luck. Have to build a team that can win without the franchise QB or when he’s not playing at his best. #Colts— George Bremer (@gmbremer) February 20, 2018
The Colts have a second-year backup quarterback who got a ton of great experience last season in Jacoby Brissett, Andrew Luck said himself Tuesday night that the thought of having an additional surgery “is not an option” and that “that ship has sailed.” Naturally, this is music to ears of the fan base, but it isn’t going to change the way that Ballard builds this team.
Ballard will build a defense that can strive with the sum of its parts, an offense that can survive without Luck and a locker room that respects the process and comes to work ready to battle each and every day. Having a GM with this mindset, and one who actually lives by it has been a long time coming for the organization.