Entering the NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts seemed like a lock to upgrade their offensive personnel. Whether it be using a high pick on a left tackle or using a middle-round pick to bolster their wide receiving corps, it just felt like they would place an emphasis on that side of the ball.
After all, why not put Carson Wentz in the best position possible to succeed after he was stripped of his confidence for most of last season?
When the dust settled, however, the Colts didn’t address the offense until the fourth round, when they drafted tight end Kylen Granson, who, despite oozing upside, might not have an immediate impact.
Perhaps the Colts opting against using one of their first two selections to help Wentz is a testament to how much confidence they have in him.
If you think about it, GM Chris Ballard isn’t one to give up draft capital, and he unloaded a 2021 third-rounder and a conditional second-rounder next year to acquire the former No. 2 overall pick from the Eagles.
While the Colts’ interest in Wentz this offseason was extensive, fans were never quite educated in terms of how the trade came to fruition.
Luckily for them, however, Ballard appeared on Fox Sports radio host Colin Cowherd’s podcast this week to reveal all the dirty details.
Colts GM Chris Ballard explained how the Carson Wentz trade came to be.
While mulling over which quarterback would best suit Indianapolis, Ballard noted that he had the team’s long-term interest in mind. The fifth-year general manager even went as far as to reveal that he “dabbled around” with Matthew Stafford, but eventually acknowledged he didn’t check those boxes and was never going to match the Rams’ incredibly rich offer.
"“And then, when it came to Carson, it was a little like Philip (Rivers) last year. Frank (Reich) and Nick Sirianni had a really good relationship with Philip,” Ballard said. “He knew the offense and it was almost a seamless transition when he brought him in.”“I almost see the same thing with Carson here over the first month and a half, where it’s a pretty seamless transition just because of his relationship with Frank, who also happens to be the play-caller. And I don’t think you could ever minimize how important that is.”“The quarterback has to feel comfortable with who’s pulling the strings and who’s pulling the trigger, and that made the trade for Carson a lot easier because I knew there was the trust level between the two of them. Trust is everything in this league.”"
During the interview, Ballard also credited his time in Kansas City, where he served as the director of player personnel for four years, with coming to the decision to trade for Wentz.
In essence, Ballard learned from Andy Reid of the importance between a QB and play caller, and acknowledged Reich has a lot of similar intangibles to that of the Chiefs head coach.
These comments might make it seem like Stafford was the Colts’ top choice, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Ballard never went all-out in pursuit of the former Lions star.
While he didn’t exactly move heaven and earth to acquire Wentz, that can be attributed to him absolutely fleecing the Eagles’ front office, which was initially demanding multiple first-rounders in return, during the negotiation process.
If fans should take anything away from Ballard’s interview, it’s that the relationship between Wentz and Reich took precedence over anything else. In other words, Ballard is giving Reich a massive vote of confidence by identifying Wentz as the QB of the future in Indianapolis.