INDIANAPOLIS – Chris Ballard was in Kansas City at the time, but the signing taking place a few states to the east of him had his attention.
The signing of a 31-year-old running back in free agency to a three-year deal is sure to draw some headlines from those in the NFL.
But it wasn't the age part that struck something inside of Ballard.
It was that a fellow AFC competitor was adding one of the NFL's most highly respected players.
Ballard, now just hours away from his first free agency as a general manager, uses Gore as an example of what he's looking for in one of the more chaotic periods of the offseason.
"I thought that was a great signing," Ballard says of Gore coming to the Colts in 2015. "Even though people get scared of running backs over the age of 30, (the Colts) brought in a high character guy that loves football."
It's the character-aspect that Ballard believes is a must when utilizing free agency.
During his introductory press conference in January, Ballard spoke about his worries with this time of year.
"We will get into free agency a little bit, but like I said earlier you cannot buy a locker room," Ballard said.
"You have to be very careful when you enter into free agency."
Even Jim Irsay said on that same day, don't expect the same sort of free agency haul that Gore came to Indy with in 2015 (the signings of Gore, Andre Johnson, Trent Cole and Kendall Langford).
Irsay used the term "selective" in regards to the future free agency approach.
When the Colts do indeed use free agency with Ballard it's going to be a very calculated decision.
A player like Gore, who won the Art Rooney award this past year for his sportsmanship, defines what coaches covet inside a locker room.
As Andrew Luck puts it, "Everything that is awesome about football, Frank embodies."
That's music to the ears of Ballard.
"Those are the types of guys you have to bring in when you sign free agents," Ballard says of Gore, "especially for any type of money because everybody is looking. (Other) players know what they are earning, the right to play and be on the team.
"Frank to me was a great example. That was a great signing and he's done good things for the Colts."
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