Because of Chris Ballard’s refusal to spend money in free agency, there is only one way the Colts can improve; the draft. Ballard better keep his draft record solid for years to come.
The 2018 draft class was one of the best draft classes in franchise history. That class netted the Colts Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard. It also gave them Braden Smith and Nyheim Hines. It gave the team two superstars and some solid players to build depth around.
This is the only way the team is going to improve under Ballard. It’s that way because of Ballard’s choosing. He has hitched his wagon on drafting players that can grow and stay with the franchise. He wants to keep his players under contract as long as possible.
That is the biggest reason that Ballard refuses to spend large amounts of money in free agency. He has a massive amount of cap space for the second offseason in a row with the Colts having $86.1 million to spend. But there’s a great chance not even half of that gets spent.
Ballard prefers to keep that money in hand for those drafted players when they are about to become free agents. He would rather pay the Nelson and Leonard’s of the world that he drafts. That’s the expectation he has set for the first three years of this tenure as GM.
It will be interesting to see if this philosophy ever changes. Ballard is staking his job on this philosophy working. If it doesn’t he may eventually run out of good will and may possibly be looking for a new job.
While that might not be anytime soon, Ballard’s clock is ticking still. He will go as far as his draft classes take him.