Did Chris Ballard reveal Colts will never spend big on a wide receiver?

Mar 1, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard during the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard during the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

General manager, Chris Ballard, shared some comments that made it seem like the Indianapolis Colts will never give a wide receiver a big contract.

This offseason, there has been a lot of wide receiver movement in the NFL. Not just any wide receivers, but the best ones in the league have been on the move.

Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and Amari Cooper are just some of the names that are with new teams. Pretty soon, Deebo Samuel may be added to that list.

With all of this movement, one of the most wide receiver-needy teams in the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts, hasn’t made a move to add a receiver.

This has baffled many in the NFL world but Frank Reich and Chris Ballard have explained their rationale. Part of their reasoning is that they aren’t desperate because they believe in the younger guys.

Additionally, with the 42nd overall pick in the upcoming Draft, Ballard admitted that he prefers to draft a wideout than pay a big number for an established star.

Ballard explained this unpopular opinion to the media in his pre-draft press conference.

Does Chris Ballard have the right approach for Colts’ receiver problem?

In Ballard’s explanation, he expresses that he feels really good defenses and defensive coordinators can take star receivers out of the game from a game-planning aspect.

With that being the case, it makes more sense for Ballard to draft a guy and hope he excels during her rookie contract as opposed to trading a lot of assets for a star and then paying him a huge contract.

Does this explanation from Ballard make sense? From a financial standpoint, absolutely. A rookie contract is much cheaper than a contract for a veteran at the top of their game.

For example, Michael Pittman Jr. is still on his rookie deal with the Colts. He’s being paid under two million dollars a year. In comparison, the three receivers named earlier, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and Amari Cooper, are all earning at least $20 million annually.

Hill and Adams, who signed extensions this offseason, will average $30 million and $28 million, respectively, in annual money based on the total value of their contracts.

So with cap space in mind, what Ballard is preaching is absolutely right. However, his rationale is a bit flawed from a football perspective.

The problem with Colts’ approach to addressing receivers

Ballard says that the good defenses and defensive coordinators will be able to neutralize star receivers. Well, if that’s the case, there aren’t many good defenses or coordinators in the league right now because receivers are having their way.

The passing attack in the NFL right now is at an elite level and receivers are thriving in the regular season and the playoffs. A look at games from last season and it’s clear that defenses are currently at a disadvantage against elite passing games.

But even to Ballard’s point, when a defense is really rolling they know how to limit the opposing team’s strength. However, committing to stopping a strength like a receiver opens up a lot more for an offense, so it’s still beneficial to have one, even if he isn’t personally creating the production.

An example of this is last year’s Divisional round classic between the Chiefs and the Bills. Kansas City took Stefon Diggs out of the game, limiting him to three receptions for seven yards.

As a result of the attention paid to Diggs, fellow Buffalo receiver, Gabriel Davis, had eight receptions for 201 yards and four touchdowns.

Imagine what Jonathan Taylor and the Colts’ run game could do if a defense was mildly worried about an outside threat from Indianapolis.

That may be achieved through the Draft. The receiver classes have been loaded the last few seasons and guys are coming in ready to dominate at the professional level.

Hopefully, the Colts land one of those guys in this year’s Draft. If they don’t, they will be stuck in a cycle attempting to draft the right guy since they aren’t willing to open their wallet and spend money on proven receivers.