There are varying opinions of general manager Chris Ballard throughout the Indianapolis Colts’ fan base. His first draft was good, not great, although it is too soon to make a complete judgment on it. His free agency last season was good, but many were frustrated by his lack of early action this offseason.
For our part at Stampede Blue, it is no secret that we like Ballard. The energy, commitment to a plan and general confidence in his ability to work with his team to overcome any obstacle and create a winning program is infectious.
In an offseason where the Colts lost out on their announced head coaching candidate Josh McDaniels in embarrassing fashion, all Ballard did was hire the Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator to fill that void. He pulled Rusty Jones, a coveted strength and conditioning coach, out of retirement to become the Colts’ Director of Sports Performance. He landed the legendary Tom Rathman to coach the Colts’ running backs.
Having done all that, Ballard proceeded to fill out the roster with low-cost, quality free agents before orchestrating a trade with the New York Jets that put the Colts in prime draft position to still land a quality player, while adding three second-round picks to their arsenal. There is still plenty to prove, but it is hard to believe that something as significant and shocking as the McDaniels fiasco is hardly even talked about after the other masterful moves that Ballard has made.
Given that he had to follow Ryan Grigson, it is unsurprising that the general consensus on Ballard is positive, but how is he viewed around the league? Well, USA Today ran a poll among NFL agents with the intent of getting an idea of how they viewed teams, executives and labor and bargaining issues. That poll gives us an idea of how at least one segment of the league views Ballard.
Despite being in just his second year as a general manager, Ballard was tied for fourth as the NFL decision maker most respected by agents. Ahead of him? Ozzie Newsome, Bill Belichick and John Schneider. That is pretty rarefied air as far as NFL decision makers go.
While being respected by agents ultimately isn’t the end all, be all, it certainly helps when negotiating contracts with players, and reflects the perception of Ballard in general as the kind of guy that is respected both inside and outside the Colts organization.