Has Chris Ballard Quieted The Colts Chatter On Le’Veon Bell Or Antonio Brown?
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INDIANAPOLIS – The question asked was in reference to Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, two of the NFL’s very best players who could very well be on the move this offseason.
Their connection to the Indianapolis Colts has been there in recent weeks.
Because the Colts have gobs and gobs of cap space to hand out such a lucrative contract (for the free agent in Bell) or absorb a massive contract number (for the trade of a Brown). The Colts are also a team that could use the addition of an elite playmaker to push them a step further in thier AFC march.
Those are the reasons why people continue to pair the Colts with the possible suitors for a Bell or a Brown.
So, what are the reasons why the Colts would be hesitant in making such a deal?
Well, let general manager Chris Ballard answer the question that Dan Dakich posed to him last week, when asked about the locker room culture impacting the possible pursuit of a Bell or Brown.
“First I can’t comment on either one,” Ballard began, before addressing the importance of culture when bringing in 'questionable character' guys. “But let me say this, it is important. I just think you are what you bring into your building. We have a great head coach. We have a great staff. But you make their jobs a lot harder and it’s a long season, and it shows up.
“Am I against adding a player that is a difference maker on Sunday that I know is going to help us win games? No. I would absolutely add that player. He’s got to fit into our culture (though). He has to fit into doing things right. He has to fit in about being team first. He has to be accountable to his teammates. They have to fit that criteria. Are we going to be perfect doing it? No. I’m not perfect. And we are going to screw some things up and make some mistakes, but that’s one thing that we are going to error on the side of caution when it comes to who we add to our locker room."
When Dakich asked Ballard directly if the GM felt his locker room was ready to handle a player that has caused issues before, Ballard was reluctant to commit to believing the Colts had reached that level.
“I don’t know if we are there yet,” Ballard said on 1070 The Fan last week. “We are very young. We have a very good combination of veteran and youth leadership. I don’t know if we are quite there yet to really absorb. Just look at my past, I go all the way back to Kingsville, Texas, where we had a team full of players that had had problems and second, third and fourth chances, that we took on. We’ve got to make sure as an organization, and our team leadership has to make sure they accept them, too. Ultimately, we are going to make the decision. But they’ve got to be able to know that we are bringing this guy into the building and he’s got to fit in, and he’s got to understand he’s got to fit in, but you all are going to have to help him fit in. I don’t know if we are quite there yet. I think we are getting close, but I don’t think we are quite there yet.
“I do think we are in a better place than we were a year ago, where I didn’t think the locker room understood what I was wanting out of them. Just because you win, doesn’t mean you have it right. You have to keep doing the right things. We are not taking a victory lap. Come on, man. We ain’t doing that. We are going to start over at square one. That’s what you do every year. Last year is over. Great year. Good to look back on when we are done, but that’s over. Teams change. They do. And every year is a new year. I think the more leadership that we can continue to bring into the building…we’ve got to continue to bring those right guys in. When you get enough of them, in my mind, it’s when you have 10-12 really core players, who are leaders and understand what they are doing, understand how you do business and are not intimidated or scared to call other players out to do that, that’s when I’ll have a good feeling of knowing. We are getting there.”
What Ballard had to say to Dakich expanded on his comments from a season-ending press conference earlier in the month.
That was when Ballard laid out the ‘very strict guidelines’ that a player has to fit for the Colts to make such a move.
Would guys with the backgrounds of Bell and Brown check all those boxes?
“The character of your locker room matters,” Ballard said earlier this month. “It matters. The men you bring in the building, what they stand for, their ability to hold each other accountable, to be accountable No. 1 for themselves, but also accountable to their teammates in how they prepare and get ready to play, that’s important.”
And it sounds like it is too important to bring in the baggage that would come with sacrificing valuable resources for one of the NFL’s best players maybe leaving Pittsburgh.