INDIANAPOLIS – It was a comment that will certainly help Anthony Walker the rest of his football career, and life, once his playing days are over.
“I have a special relationship with Anthony Walker,” Chris Ballard said of the 4th year linebacker, when the 2020 season came to a close. “Selfless. Team guy. Rare leader. I hope he gets into coaching one day or scouting.
“Mark my words on this, if Anthony Walker gets into coaching, he will be a head football coach in the National Football League. And if he gets into scouting, he’ll be a general manager. He’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant and he’s made of the right stuff.
“I know Anthony wants to play more. We value Anthony. We’ll see how it works out. I want good for Anthony.”
Not many NFL general managers talk about one of their players in the way Ballard did with Walker.
Of course, when talking strictly about Walker’s future with the Colts, that last part is what stands out.
I know Anthony wants to play more. We value Anthony. We’ll see how it works out. I want good for Anthony.
Walker, 25, does want to play more.
While Walker started 16 games for a second straight season this past year, his playing time decreased (79 percent of the defensive snaps in 2019, 68% of the defensive snaps in 2020), with the Colts using second-year linebacker Bobby Okereke a lot more. Walker said after the 2020 season that a goal for him in free agency is to find more playing time.
And, Ballard is right, the Colts do value Walker.
Sure, not to the extent of playing him nearly every snap like they used to. But they love his leadership and know one injury to Darius Leonard or Okereke means Walker is needed in a massive role. There’s trust in Walker.
When Ballard says he “wants good” for Walker, that’s telling though.
Ideally, Walker would find a new home this offseason, one that offers him the chance to start and play more on his second contract.
The Colts cannot offer that.
Given Ballard’s history of drafting linebackers, it probably makes sense for the Colts to go that route to find new frontline depth behind Leonard and Okereke.
2021 Colts Free Agent Watches