Colts: Grover Stewart contract extension proves Chris Ballard is already looking to future

Colts DT Grover Stewart (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Colts DT Grover Stewart (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Colts snuck in a contract extension for Grover Stewart. Yeah, we were surprised too!

To be honest with you, we missed the Indianapolis Colts announcing their contract extension with Grover Stewart. Chalk it up to the tweet getting lost in the mix or the fact we were fully geared up for the matchup against the Tennessee Titans, but at least it’s some good news after a disastrous Sunday.

At 4 p.m. on Saturday, the Colts revealed Stewart had signed a three-year pact to remain in Indy through the 2023 season. Later, the financial details were revealed, and Stewart will make a guaranteed $20 million on a deal worth up to $30.75 million. That’s tremendous value for what Stewart has shown the Colts this year, but it’s also an appropriate price tag for a guy who didn’t start a game until 2019. It’s a win-win.

More importantly, however, is the fact that general manager Chris Ballard secured a key piece on the Colts defense prior to this ordeal getting to free agency. The foresight here, though expected since everyone was aware of Stewart’s worth after the addition of DeForest Buckner, now has Indy in a favorable position once the offseason arrives.

This contract hardly puts a dent into the Colts’ cap space, which, back in late October, was projected to be $66.5 million. After Stewart, we’d venture to say the next top priorities are Justin Houston, Xavier Rhodes and TJ Carrie, all of whom shouldn’t break the bank. Perhaps those talks are next up on Ballard’s to-do list.

Stewart was the most important though, and getting that out of the way will help Indy focus on the bigger picture. A franchise quarterback? Possibly. But there may not be any available. A No. 1 wide receiver? There are many playmakers set to hit free agency, so that’s extremely realistic.

Whatever the Colts decide to do, just know that this is a lesson in Football Economics 101. Taking care of your homegrown drafted players before they can talk with other teams minimizes a lot of offseason complications that arise when there’s no open dialogue or candid assessment of value.

The 2020 season has been a good one for the Colts, but this project is hardly nearing completion. Ballard is working to make this roster a Super Bowl contender. The bones and foundation are there. The move to keep Stewart is part of next next phase.

Whatever moves that follow will be free from any distraction. Stewart was the free agent elephant in the room. Ballard’s vision is less clouded and that’s good news for the Colts’ future, which has high expectations.