INDIANAPOLIS — Chris Ballard has said all along that he would need one heck of an offer to be enticed to move out of the No. 3-overall pick in this year's NFL Draft.
On Saturday, the second-year Indianapolis Colts general manager got exactly what he was looking for.
The Colts announced a trade with the New York Jets in which Indy would acquire the Jets' first-round (sixth overall) and two second-round (37th and 49th overall) picks, as well as their second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, in exchange for the No. 3-overall pick.
Ballard said he had been in contact with the Jets' front office since the beginning of the week, and after considering some other possible trade-down options with other teams, the Jets scenario was just too good to pass up.
Also, by staying at No. 6 overall, Ballard said "we'll still be able to acquire a premium player."
"Plus, being able to pick up the two 2s (second-round picks) this year and the 2 (second-round pick) next year, it gives us four picks this year in the top-50 picks of the draft, and then three picks next year — you know, one in the first, and two in (the) second," Ballard told Colts.com on Saturday. "So it gives us a chance to really replenish our young talent, and to start to building a core of young talent that we need to do."
Since being hired as the Colts' general manager in January 2017, Ballard has stressed the importance of building strong draft classes on each other each year in order for the franchise to have the best chance at long-term success.
While free agency is certainly an option to fill some holes on the roster, Ballard said picking the right young talent is the way to go.
He reiterated that stance on Saturday. While many teams across the league have spent the better part of the second half of the week making waves by signing several top-dollar free agents, the Colts have mostly decided to stay out of that game, just signing one new free agent, defensive end Denico Autry, to this point.
"Look, one of our goals — we looked in free agency, and we just didn't feel like we were at a point to where we wanted to add some of the guys at the price that they were at," Ballard said of his approach to free agency so far this year. "And we need to add some young talent to this roster. So the ability to have seven players here in the next two years that are all going to be first- and second-round picks was attractive to us."
When it comes to April's NFL Draft, Ballard said the Colts won't rule out the possibility of trading back again from No. 6-overall. But he feels confident the team can and will get a major contributor in that spot, so it would take another gigantic offer to make that type of move.
"We're still open. You know, we'll still be open if an opportunity — the right opportunity — presents itself at (No.) 6 to move down," Ballard said. "But right now we feel pretty good. It would have to be a pretty attractive offer for us to move away from (No.) 6 because the player we think we're going to get."