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Throughout the 2018 regular season, SB Nation polled team fan communities. The FanPulse surveys were able to track fan opinions on a number of topics but the most consistent topic gauged weekly fan confidence. Now that the 2018 season has come to a close, rosters have started to turn over, and the primary waive of free agency has come to an end, SB Nation thought it would be interesting to kick off the 2019 season by getting a feel for how free agency has impacted confidence.
The Indianapolis Colts fan base was one of the most consistently confident in the NFL last season. SBNation’s Head of NFL Blogs, Joel Thorman, completed a story that analyzed each team and highlighted how incredibly confident Colts fans remained, even after a difficult start to the season. The greatest dip in confidence came after a devastating loss to the New York Jets in Week 6, which pushed the team’s record to 1 - 5. Eight of the last nine weeks of the season saw confidence remain at or above 94%. Week 17, and in both playoff rounds, Colts fan confidence peaked at 98%.
Chris Ballard has again navigated through the free agency spending spree carefully. A large portion of his attention was spent on retaining current players, including Adam Vinatieri, Mark Glowinski, Clayton Geathers, Pierre Desir, and Matthias Farley. His only two dips into free agency have addressed the teams biggest areas of need. He attempted to bolster the wide receiver position by adding 24-year old Devin Funchess on a one-year deal with $10M in guarantees. He also attempted to bolster the Colts’ edge rushing presence by signing 30-year old veteran pass rusher Justin Houston to a 2-year deal that included $18.5M in guarantees.
Other veteran free agents, including edge rusher Shane Ray and running back Jay Ajayi could still be on Ballard’s radar.
Questions still remain about whether veteran receiver Dontrelle Inman will return for another season. Starting one-technique defensive tackle Al Woods is still sitting in free agency as well. Given that both players are over 30 years old and Ballard likes to add young players to create a long-term foundation for the team, one can only imagine that no immediate signings can be expected.
Despite a relatively quiet free agency, and still holding $59M in available cap space — which is $20M more than the second place Dolphins, fans are confident that the team is better after free agency than it was before it. Our initial FanPulse results show that 100% of all participating fans felt the team improved in free agency and 96% still remain confident that the team is headed in the right direction.
Chris Ballard currently holds nine picks as he approaches April’s NFL Draft. He has the money to add players who remain on the open market in an environment where over half of his competition has less than $20M in available space. Fans expect that the young nucleus of the team will get better in their second NFL seasons and the whole team should improve in their second seasons under a new coaching staff. Rumors are already circulating the Ballard might use some of his bank account to extend current players and avoid losing in-house free agents that are due for new contracts in the next two seasons.
There is a whole lot of careful navigating to do between here and the start of the 2019 season but Colts fans remain confident in the team’s direction. After one of the easiest schedules in the NFL a season ago, are Colts fans too confident?