The Colts just proved that patience pays in this year’s NFL free agency period by signing former Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston. The move also proved to Colts fans that Chris Ballard knows what he’s doing.
According to spotrac.com, the Colts had the most cap space in the NFL, sitting on some $77 million before the Houston signing. Aside from the addition of WR Devin Funchess out of Carolina, and Houston, the Colts have mostly stuck to in-house signings, including kicker Adam Vinatieri, right guard Mark Glowinski, defensive end Margus Hunt and cornerback Pierre Desir.
Prior to today’s acquisition, there was significant criticism directed at Colts GM Chris Ballard; some Colts fans wondered why the team hadn’t made a lot of huge moves in free agency. Ballard is okay with this criticism, he knows the ropes.
Now, more than ever, Colts nation needs to trust the process and trust Ballard’s wisdom when it comes to signing and drafting players. He proved his ability to put together an excellent group of players last season, drafting a handful of playmakers like guard Quenton Nelson, linebacker Darius Leonard and right tackle Braden Smith. The 2018 Colts draft class was one of the best in years.
“We have very strict criteria of what we want to bring in,” Ballard said in a press conference in February. “They want to add talent with what we stand for.”
The 2018 Colts team had a certain camaraderie that was very evident in the locker room. This is all thanks to the franchise Ballard has put together. The Colts thrived in 2018 under head coach Frank Reich, beginning the season at 1-5 and going on to win 10 of their last 11 games for a playoff spot and a clinching of the AFC South. This team, however, relied a lot on the rookie class that Ballard put together in the 2018 NFL Draft. These young players are just a testament to the intelligence of Ballard’s football mind. He isn’t going to bring in players that will shake up the locker room and stray from the values of the team. He has a strict standard that has really paid off.
Ballard has said many times that his goal isn’t to bring in a bunch of big name players, but to improve internally and count on the talent coming out of the draft. The Colts have a few specific needs that can be targeted in the draft rather than spending millions of dollars on a one-year deal with a veteran. Houston appears to be an exception to that rule. The linebacker is a phenomenal addition to the pass rush that the Colts desperately needed.
The bottom line is that fans need to let Ballard do his thing. He’s been very deliberate about the Colts’ moves and that won’t be changing. Many players’ contracts will expire after this season, including Eric Ebron, Anthony Castonzo, Jack Doyle, Jabaal Sheard, Adam Vinatieri, Joe Haeg, Kenny Moore and Funchess, to name a few. I can’t see Ballard spending every dime on a player simply because of the name on the their jersey. He wants to improve from within and develop what he already has. Sensibility will pay off in the end, and Ballard is already proving that.