Let’s just put it this way: Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard better have a damn good plan with the NFL Draft fast approaching.
It’s not that fans don’t trust him; it’s just that far too many solutions have passed him by this offseason when the Colts have a few crucial holes to fill.
Often times, unless the front office possesses a premium pick, teams don’t want to rely on a rookie having to contribute and produce from the jump, especially at a position that requires it.
One aspect of the roster Indy has to address — as you well know — is the left tackle position. And there were plenty of options to do so.
Trent Williams was there for the taking. Orlando Brown was on the trade block. Alejandro Villanueva could’ve been had for a trade, then he was cut and could’ve been signed!
But the real big miss was Brown. Not only did he go to a direct competitor in the AFC, but he really didn’t cost a prohibitive amount.
The Chiefs traded their first-, third- and fourth-round picks in 2021 as well as a fifth-rounder in 2022 and received Brown, the Ravens’ 2021 second-round pick and 2022 fifth-round pick. And initially some thought this would cost multiple first-rounders!
Given the Colts were picking at No. 21, the price likely wouldn’t have been as steep. So maybe this could’ve just been their first- and third-round picks in 2021 and a sixth-rounder in 2022 for Brown and the Ravens’ second-rounder?
And don’t get us started on the salary cap and try to say the Colts couldn’t afford an extension for Brown. The Chiefs are paying everybody under the sun and are making it work. Patrick Mahomes has a $500 million contract. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are among the highest-paid at their positions. And they just signed Joe Thuney to an $80 million contract.
Unless Ballard didn’t get the memo that the cap is fake — or at least that there are a ton of loopholes he can use — then we’re not sure what the holdup is. And he’s yet to extend stars like Darius Leonard, Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith! So what are we doing?
The Colts still have over $20 million in cap space for this season. They could’ve easily parted with No. 21 and a couple of mid-rounders in exchange for a Pro Bowl tackle and a second-round pick, worked out an extension for Brown, and got creative on the financial side to keep their other core guys around.
Don’t be surprised if moving Nelson to left tackle and drafting a guard in the second round doesn’t work out. And you can always reference this miss as one that could’ve transformed the Colts and kept the Chiefs from getting even better.