To this point in the early days of the new league year, and free agency, the Indianapolis Colts have been extremely quiet for a team which held more than $70 million in cap space just 24 hours ago. Chris Ballard is taking a slow-burn approach to dolling out some money and has allowed several of the top, young talents available to choose alternate destinations.
The only signing the Colts have made to this point is Denico Autry, and center Ryan Jensen is slated to be on his way — via the Colts private jet — to Indianapolis after meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in the day.
It doesn’t appear that fans are the only ones getting frazzled with the lack of spending Ballard is doing with all of that money at his disposal either. NFL Network’s Mike Silver appeared quite disappointed in the lack of acquisitions the Colts have made thus far as well.
“I’m just trying to figure it out. Ryan Grigson came in and took over a team that had bottomed out, they won 52 games over 5 years — and got fired. Chris Ballard came in and Jim Irsay declared that he was — by far — the best GM candidate of the 21st century.”
“Last year with Andrew Luck coming off shoulder surgery, they had no plan at quarterback, they started Scott Tolzien. They made the trade for Jacoby Brissett and went 4-12.”
“Now — you have all the money, free agency’s going on — bro, wow us Chris! You’ve won 4 games, wow us with your accumen, because now is the time to spend your owner’s money.”
Steve Wyche, then went on to question what many have up to this point in the process: “What if he’s swung and missed, because there are a lot of teams trying to get a handle on free agency.”
Silver doubled down. “If you’re the best GM candidate of the 21st century take the swing, and by the way, we’re also talking about; you had Josh McDaniels lined up as your chosen head coach and you swung and missed at that — you couldn’t close.”
Look, — as Ballard would begin his rebuttal — this is a very measured approach by Ballard to legitimately structure the Colts roster in the best possible way, but will take some time to complete or even get the Colts back in real contention. Kudos, to Ballard, too, because he’s got more patience than most of us who are looking on.
And let’s not forget that McDaniels is a snake, and that most fans are pretty happy with the hiring of Frank Reich. Whether it was the first or last choice, Reich appears to be a very good fit with the Colts current front office.
The need for competitive football won’t go away, though. Most fans are wanting some resemblance of growth after an abysmal season in 2017, and that’s okay. That’s what being a fan is all about. But, Ballard looks to be intently focused on keeping his eyes on the prize regardless of how grueling the process becomes.
Is he looking to build around Luck? I think we can say yes, but his statement that “It’ll never be about just one guy” suggests that he is building what he hopes can develop into a perennial contender and annually near the top of the league on both sides of the ball — building what looks like almost exclusively through the draft early on. For now, he’s taking the long approach, and building a roster who can win regardless of who is at quarterback.
While the lack of activity is trying, so is listening to Mike Silver talk. Just understand that Ballard will fill this roster out, and the Colts will absolutely meet their cap floor in the process. But, also we need to understand that Ballard doesn’t care about what you or I, or any one analyst on a major network has to say about what he deems to be the correct process in rebuilding a roster who has had some of the worst roster retention in the league between 2012 and 2017.