Chris Ballard slept through beginning of free agency as Colts fail as a front office

Colts fail to sign skill position players to surround Anthony Richardson and only pick up two new players, one of which will hopefully never see the field.

Raekwon Davis, shown here as a member of the Miami Dolphins, was the biggest free agent signing for Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts thus far in free agency. Ballard needs to bring in more pieces to surround Anthony Richardson, if the Colts are going to be productive this season.
Raekwon Davis, shown here as a member of the Miami Dolphins, was the biggest free agent signing for Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts thus far in free agency. Ballard needs to bring in more pieces to surround Anthony Richardson, if the Colts are going to be productive this season. / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Free agency has not been kind to the Indianapolis Colts, but then again, the Colts have not gone out of their way to spend any of the $70 million that they have under the cap. The money represents the most cash that any team in the league has to spend under the $255.4 million salary cap.

General Manger Chris Ballard held on to Jim Irsay's money like he was spending his own salary. The Colts were not aggressive at all and unfortunately it is going to show up in the win-loss column. The Colts were close last season and thus far, I see them regressing unless they have a good showing in the NFL Draft next month.

The Colts again have remained stagnant during the first week of free agency as they only signed one new starter in former Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Raekwon Davis. The second signing came from AARP list as the Colts signed 39-year old Joe Flacco, who played last for the Cleveland Browns in 2023 for only five games.

Davis is happy to be a member of the Colts. Reached on Friday, he told, that he needed a change and needed to be freed from South Florida.

"I just felt like this was the best choice for me, Davis said on Friday. The organization, I feel like they opened their arms up and just let me in. They wanted me here. I feel like playing with [DeForest] Buckner and Grover [Stewart], I feel like it’s a great fit for me. And you know, just learn a different scheme, be in something different."

Colts defensive lineman Raekwon Davis

Davis said he was playing the same way at Alabama and with the Dolphins, where he was used mostly as a run-stopper, but Charlie Partridge apparently wants him to be more of a pass rusher and put pressure on the quarterback.

"Just trying to experience new things, you know? Davis admitted when asked what influenced his decision. Since coming out of Alabama, I’ve been playing the same technique – two gapping. Just experience different techniques, that’s all it is, man. Just being able to play with those two guys is going to be great."

Colts defensive lineman Raekwon Davis.

As for Flacco, if he sees the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts are in trouble as that means that there is a problem with Anthony Richardson. Quarterback depth was necessary, but they could have swung a deal to get a quarterback with a future, like Kenny Pickett from Pittsburgh or Desmond Ritter from Atlanta. Tyler Huntley, from Baltimore was available, and still is, and performed admirably when Lamar Jackson was either hurt or rested.

Pickett and Ritter were traded by their respective teams and the Colts should have been in the mix. Flacco is on a downward slope and at the end of his career. The Colts needed a younger, more mobile quarterback who could be more like Richardson.

The Colts needed to also sign a cornerback, a safety, a wide receiver or two, a tight end and build up their depth along the offensive line. They failed to meet those goals and it's a good thing that Richardson is a mobile quarterback because he will be running for his life every play if they do not sign some big bodies along the offensive front.

The Colts could have signed a wide receiver like Calvin Ridley who ultimately signed a huge contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ridley, a speedster from South Florida and played collegiately at the University of Alabama, would have ran nicely on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium. The track is known to be a faster playing surface and he would be a good target for Richardson.

Wide receiver Mike Williams was released by the Los Angeles Chargers and is still available. Ballard should be on the phone with his agent forthwith to bring him to Indy so he could catch passes from Richardson. The Colts need to be more competitive in the AFC South, where every team got better, with the exception of the Colts.

Ballard also failed to address the back of the defense where the Colts really needed some help. They needed a safety and could have gone after Jordan Poyer from the Buffalo Bills. The Miami Dolphins signed him to a one-year $2 million contract. Miami also signed cornerback Kendall Fuller, who will take over Xavien Howard's spot at cornerback opposite Jalen Ramsey.

These two are the exact type of players that Ballard needed to sign. Poyer has a ton of experience and could have come cheap.

Chris Ballard
Chris Ballard addresses the local media at the NFL Combine two weeks ago at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Ballard has been sitting on his hands instead of making significant moves in free agency that will help the Colts in 2024. / Kara Durrette/GettyImages

It is widely known that Ballard is not a swing for the fences guy and go all out in free agency, but he did give Davis a two-year, $14 million contract. He knows how to spend the dough, but he is too frugal with it for my liking.

Davis, who was a second-round pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2020, averaged more than 500 snaps a season and weighs 325 pounds. He is a big, nasty defensive tackle who stops the run and also has been known to rush the quarterback with effectiveness.

Flacco helped the upstart Cleveland Browns make the playoffs after they lost three quarterbacks to injury, including starter Deshaun Watson. For his efforts, Flacco won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

The Colts have so many holes and have the cash under the cap to fill them. Hopefully, they will get more active in free agency and make some good selections in the NFL Draft.

Ballard has been busy resigning the Colts' own free agents. Those signings are highlighted by punter Rigoberto Sanchez, who has one of the strongest legs in the league, and linebacker/safety Ronnie Harrison, Jr.

Sanchez, who missed the 2022 season with a torn Achilles tendon, returned to his prior form in 2023 and averaged 48.3 yards per punt. He was the only punter in the league not to have a touchback, which is an incredible feat.

Harrison took over one of the linebacker spots after the Colts decided to sit Shaquille Leonard during the middle of the season. Harrison was an important piece of the defense, but his true position is safety and is still learning how to play the linebacker position. He has been a hybrid player thus far and will be given every opportunity to win the starting job in training camp.

The Colts lost their backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, who signed a two-year $25 million contract to compete with Aidan O'Connell for the starting position. Running back Zack Moss signed with the Bengals and will take over for Joe Mixon, who was traded to Houston.

Finally, Georgia product wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who was primed for a breakout season, was signed to a lucrative contract by the New York Giants. He showed promise as a kick returner last season before being suspended late in the year.