Indianapolis Colts: Chris Ballard Doing More Than Creating Competition

Mar 1, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

New Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard is creating roster competition while allowing for flexibility that will allow the Colts to achieve greatness.

New Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard is following the plan he set forth very early on … he is adding players to create roster competition.

Even more so, he is making the entire roster better while creating future flexibility that will allow the Colts to achieve greatness once again.

The Indianapolis Colts won 139 games while losing only 54 from 1999 through 2010.  During that 12-year span, the Colts made the playoffs 11 times, won eight division titles, played in three conference championships and two Super Bowls.  The crown jewel was winning Super Bowl XLI.

Unfortunately, the last few seasons have seen the Colts return to mediocrity.

With the addition of Ballard as Colts’ general manager, the Indianapolis Colts seem to have changed the tone, culture and plan to return the team to glory.

Ballard talked extensively in early interviews about creating a competitive culture:

"“We’re going to try to acquire as many young players that we can to have a competitive roster.  We want the most competitive roster we can get.  That’s how you get great. That’s how you get to be special as a team.’’"

When you look at the free agent additions Ballard has made, you can clearly see that almost every position now carries some level of competition.  On offense, the Colts added Brian Schwenke to compete along the offensive line.

While Schwenke may be a better fit as a capable backup at both the center and guard positions, he will no doubt push guys like Denzelle Good and Joe Haeg at the right guard position.  He could also push often injured Jack Mewhort at the left guard position.

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Earlier this week, the Colts signed receiver Kamar Aiken.  I have no doubt that Aiken will have every opportunity to unseat underperforming Phillip Dorsette as the team’s No. 3 receiver.  The Colts also signed tight end Brandon Williams, who could be best suited as a number three tight end or special teams player.  That said, he will be given an opportunity to unseat Erik Swoope as the team’s No. 2 tight end.

On defense, the Colts upgraded their starting outside linebackers with the addition of John Simon, Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo.  Akeem Ayers played in all 16 games for the Colts last season at outside linebacker, but he will have to work hard to crack the starting lineup and receive playing time this season.

At inside linebacker, rookie Antonio Morrison and second year player Edwin Jackson may have started a combined 12 games last season; however, Sean Spence will create competition for both players in 2017.

The Colts may not be finished at inside linebacker as they could add another free agent or use an early pick on an inside linebacker such as Alabama’s Reuben Foster.

Free agents Al Woods and Margus Hunt will push to unseat incumbents at nose tackle and defensive tackle.  Both Parry and Jones could be cut casualties before training camp begins – Parry for legal reasons and Jones for salary cap reasons.

Ballard’s free agent additions have been solid.  No, the new players aren’t superstar players; however, championships are won by developing good chemistry with above-average players and layering in/developing superstars.

The best part about Ballard’s free agent signings is that after 2017, all of these players could be cut or left unsigned without any dead cap ramifications.  There is no guaranteed money allocated to any of these contracts after 2017.

Sure, some can be re-signed to longer deals with larger cap consequences after 2017, but the Colts have just bought themselves one year of time to develop younger players.

Next: Mel Kiper Mock Draft 3.0 Has Colts Selecting Alabama’s Reuben Foster

The Indianapolis Colts Chris Ballard knows exactly what he is doing.  He’s creating competition to make a larger group of players better overall.  He is also buying time to allow his 2017 draft picks to develop.

This will be an important draft for Ballard, but one that can help define the Indianapolis Colts for another generation.