INDIANAPOLIS – Ideally, Chris Ballard would not be juggling free agency meetings between college draft meetings.
But that's life when you are hired as an NFL GM just six weeks before the start of free agency.
The balancing of time and weighing the strengths of free agency versus the draft has been a big part of Ballard since his hiring in late January.
At last week's NFL Combine, Ballard was asked to expand on his general free agency philosophy.
When Ballard was introduced as Colts GM, he made it clear that the draft is where the bulk of roster building must come. Free agency should be used sparingly.
Last week, Ballard further explained why he will be careful with free agency.
"I don't want to create the misconception that we are never going to hit free agency," Ballard said. "That's not right. What I am going to say though is when we do dip into free agency and sign other players we have to be right on the player we sign.
"Let me give you an example, you pay a guy a lot of money and you plug him into the locker room. The locker room is watching, so to me in my mind that guy has to be a worker, he has to be a good teammate, he has to earn it, he has to earn that money and earn that right. And he has to be a fit, he has to be a fit for what you are doing offensively and defensively. That's where my fear of free agency comes in. Is he a good fit? Is he the type of person that is going to come in and the other players are not going to resent him because he is making an amount of money? If he is a worker and a good teammate and he is going to help us win then they will buy in and he will be a good player for us."
Ballard's take is not rash or something that will be leading to many impulse decisions when the 4:00 p.m. hour hits on Thursday, indicating the start of free agency.
From a camaraderie standpoint, Ballard believes the draft is still the way to go in developing a cohesive locker room.
That's what adds to the free agency predicament.
"You can't buy a locker room," Ballard says. "I won't say we won't do (free agency) but if we do, we've got to be right on the person we bring in that locker room. If you give a guy an absurd amount of money and he has a character flaw, you've sent a message to your locker room that (character) doesn't matter.
"Players respect if you a pay a guy who has earned the right."
Starting Thursday and continuing for subsequent days, Ballard's free agency plan will be revealed.
Just how willing is Ballard to spend the more than $50 million of cap space on the outside market?
That remains to be seen, but Ballard isn't living in a fantasy world thinking about free agency success.
"Are we going to be 100 percent right?" Ballard asks rhetorically. "No, I wish I was. I will end up where Mr. (Bill) Polian is if I was.
"But I am realistic (about free agency)."*
Colts new General Manager, Chris Ballard, talks to the media on day one of the 2017 NFL Combine.
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