INDIANAPOLIS… This is not what some wanted to see from the Indianapolis Colts after the first few days of NFL Free Agency.
The first wave is over, and the Colts aren’t the kind of team that gets people fired up. In fact, the opposite has happened: no one is talking about it.
That’s because they’ve been around since the 17th century. In March, the start of the new NFL year, only two players were contracted – running back Marlon Mack with a one-year, $2 million contract and defensive end Isaac Rochell with a $2.5 million contract.
The Colts still need pass-rush, offensive tackle, receiver and cornerback. They head into the free agency field with the fourth most needs in the league.
But that shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who have noticed CEO Chris Ballard’s approach to free agency since his hiring in the winter of 2017.
Ballard doesn’t see free agency as a race with other teams trying to spend big money on top free agents.
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This isn’t Ballard’s style.
He takes a very methodical approach to Free Agency, which may not be exciting, but is well thought out by him and his team.
I think the best thing Chris can do is get out from under his contracts, Colts owner Jim Irsay said. Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make. And he has that discipline. He’ll get to a certain point, but we’ll talk at length about the current situation…. and usually I’ll put a sweetener on it and he’ll say: No, let’s stay where we are. That’s what this agreement should have been.
And I really have to give him a lot of credit because, believe me, general managers have a hard time finding someone who is really disciplined when you’re trying to make a big [commitment] just before the deadline and you’re trying to do it and the head coach wants you to do it and the owner wants you to do it and you say: No, let’s keep Pat, everything’s gonna be fine. I think that’s what makes him a great general manager.
One of the reasons the Colts haven’t been too aggressive so far is the realization that it’s time to give second contracts to players like linebacker Darius Leonard and offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith. The price of these contracts won’t be cheap either.
The Colts don’t care because these players were recruited by them. It shows how well organized Ballard and his team are and that he is sticking to his plan to develop local talent.
There will never be a question: Do the Colts spend enough money to win football games? The question will never arise, Irsay said. We will always be there and try our best to be excellent on the field. At the same time. is one of the most important things that you have your great players entering their second contracts. This is something essential.
If the Colts were to start the regular season today, they should be good enough to secure a playoff spot after trading quarterback Carson Wentz. But for Irsay, who has never made a secret of his desire to win multiple Super Bowls, it’s not just about making the playoffs.
What areas do you want the Colts to cover? With the retirement of Anthony Castonzo in January, there’s a hole to fill on the left side.
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The Colts did not want to get involved in the bidding war for Trent Williams, who signed with San Francisco for six years and $138 million. Mitchell Schwartz and Alejandro Villanueva are two of three remaining free agents on Kevin Seifert’s roster, but Irsay seems to suggest the Colts have a position in the draft – they took 21st. First round pick – to be had if Nelson doesn’t slide to the back.
The project would be an ideal target. We saw how that process worked for [former Colts] Tarik Glenn and Anthony Castonzo, Irsay said. We would love to have someone who plays here for a long time.
Irsay specifically mentioned another playmaker and a cornerback – in addition to tackle – when talking about the position the Colts still want to address this season. These steps can be taken through a free contract, a draft, or an exchange.
The Colts have two free agents at both positions, receiver T.J. Hilton and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. The door wasn’t closed when they came back.
We would love to have Hilton back, and we will work hard to get him back, but he has to fit into the context of the team that makes the most sense for us to be a better football team, Irsay said. I know Chris is working hard on this and we are optimistic that he will succeed.
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