INDIANAPOLIS – When asked directly about free agency, Chris Ballard gives you the answer that Colts fans have grown accustomed to on the given subject.
“I think you all know my philosophy on free agency, you cannot buy a championship,” Ballard said earlier this offseason. “You cannot buy a locker room. We will continue to go down the same road that we’ve been going down.”
Well, so much for Ballard using free agency more in 2020.
Not so fast.
Even though Ballard gives that stock answer, he also is a realist in regards to what were the issues last season.
A candid Ballard has mentioned several times that he ‘failed’ in the complete roster building process in 2019.
“It guts me, to be honest with you,” Ballard says of the Colts going 7-9. “I’m pissed at myself for not giving out coaching staff enough depth during this season because we had a real opportunity to do some things this year and I didn’t do my job good enough to give them enough depth for us to succeed. That bothers me.”
Specifically, outside of depth, Ballard points to another part of roster building that he did not accomplish last year.
“I don’t think you can ever overestimate the power of veteran leadership, even if they’re not frontline players for you,” the GM adds. “Just when it gets a little hard, they’re a calming factor. That’s my fault. And I’ve got to do a better job of acquiring the right type of veterans on the defense and on the offensive side of the ball who can help guys get through these rough moments.”
What is Ballard saying there?
That the Colts didn’t have enough depth, nor enough veteran leadership, to be a playoff caliber team in 2019.
How do you correct that?
The draft, to a degree, can help with the depth aspect of things.
But free agency is the avenue for adding veteran leadership, while also being a path to find more instant impact acquisitions starting in September.
So if Ballard carries through on the problems he wants to correct from 2019, dabbling in free agency will have to occur.
“When we get opportunities to acquire players that we like, we’ll do it,” Ballard said. “It’s not like we haven’t gone into free agency. We’ve signed Justin Houston. We’ve signed Devin Funchess.
“But our general philosophy is always going to be to build through the draft. That’s how we are going to do it.”
Do we some tweaking to that approach this offseason, after the disappointment in how last year’s season ended up?