INDIANAPOLIS – The last in-season trade for the Indianapolis Colts was certainly one to forget.
Back in September 2013, the Colts gave up a future first-round pick for running back Trent Richardson.
Needing another running back to fill-in for the injured Vick Ballard, Ryan Grigson didn’t hold back in being aggressive. That trade was a complete flop.
Since then, the Colts have yet to complete an in-season trade, with the NFL trade deadline typically lacking the same sort of pop as the NBA or MLB.
Still, we’ve seen some notable moves (via trade and free agency) by the top teams in the AFC just this season (Kansas City signing RB-Le’Veon Bell, Baltimore trading for DE-Yannick Ngakoue).
The 2020 NFL trade deadline is next Tuesday (November 3rd) with most deals expected to happen this week, due to players having to go through a 5-day COVID protocol process before fully joining their new team.
With the Colts sitting at 4-2, and currently holding the 7th (and final) spot in the AFC playoff picture, some are curious if Chris Ballard should be buying at the deadline.
They should not, in my opinion.
How Improved Would You Get?
As we head to the mid-way point of the 2020 NFL season, the AFC has proven to have a much deeper top tier than many thought it would be entering the season.
Most would slot Tennessee and Pittsburgh into the group with Kansas City and Baltimore, with the others in the AFC all looking up at those teams.
So, how improved would the Colts get by making a trade?
Would it push them to the top of the AFC South? Would it lead them to definitely being a playoff team, and one capable of winning multiple games in January?
That’s unlikely, IMO.
Yes, the Colts are 4-2, but they have also played the easiest schedule in the NFL.
To be a buyer at the trade deadline (especially given the uncertain future for this team at QB), making a deadline move must push you into the Super Bowl-caliber category.
Would another wideout or a more proven pass rusher do that? No, unless you are giving up an absurd amount of future resources.
I don’t think it would.
Long-Term QB Question In Limbo
As mentioned above, this is the looming cloud hanging over every single personnel decision the Colts make.
Jacob Eason is the only Colts quarterback under contract past this season.
Philip Rivers has not shown a level of play that indicates he should unquestionably be brought back for another season in 2021.
That impacts the trade deadline because if you are buying at the deadline, you are in all likelihood giving up a draft pick.
And the domino of that is you are spending a potentially precious draft pick on a short-term rental that probably won’t push you into that top tier of being a legit AFC contender.
That’s the issue without having the long-term QB answer. You are constantly in search for it, so any trade will be scrutinized even more.
Future Resources A Bit More Scarce
Building off the point above, the Colts are not in the same sort of ‘abundant resource’ position that they were in previous trade deadlines under Chris Ballard.
Like we said, any trade for the Colts will lead to them giving up a draft pick.
Well, the Colts aren’t in the same position they were in 2019 or 2020, with that additional second-round pick in the cupboard.
Currently, the Colts have seven picks for next April, one in each round.
Giving up a middle-ish round selection here at the deadline would take away a potential trade asset if/when the Colts try to move up to draft a quarterback. Plus, the Colts continuing to have money to spend in free agency is no longer as fertile, with longer term deals on the horizon for Darius Leonard, Braden Smith and Quenton Nelson.
We know draft picks are precious to Ballard, and they should be when also thinking about possible draft trade scenarios for that inevitable QB decision.
The NFL trade deadline is weird. Unless, you really think you’re a Super Bowl caliber team and just one piece away, most teams should stay quiet (or sell). I don’t view the Colts in that light here in 2020. Making a move in the next week would scream ‘win now’ and be a much more short-term view. Therefore, knowing how important the looming decision is at the quarterback position, the Colts would be wise to hold onto their draft picks, and let the rest of this season play out as is. Yes, wide receiver and defensive end are two positions where the Colts could use some bolstering. But not at the expense of a draft pick.