INDIANAPOLIS — Chris Ballard likened the Indianapolis Colts’ approach to today’s NFL trade deadline to fishing.
“We’ve always got our lines in the water,” Ballard said this week.
As such, the Colts are always open to entertaining various opportunities to strengthen their roster or bolster their draft capital — or both.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean Indy is going to make a move just for the sake of making moves, and that ended up being the case by today’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, which came and went with no transactions to report from the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
As Ballard alluded to Monday in an appearance on 1070 The Fan's "Colts Roundtable Live," football isn't like baseball or basketball, where trades are much more common due to the relatively simple carryover players have from one team to another.
In fact, acquiring new players midseason in the NFL oftentimes makes for an extremely difficult transition for guys who have dedicated themselves to one particular system, only to be forced to learn a completely new playbook — and right away.
That’s the give and take every team measures at this time of the year, as they keep one eye on the immediate needs of the team, and the other on what’s coming down the road.
The overall message for the Colts?
“We’re always looking to get better,” Ballard said. “I’ve said that since Day 1. We’re always going to look to improve. We’ll always have lines in the water.”
Because of this approach, the Colts, perhaps not surprisingly, are oftentimes rumored to be in the market for several players who either become available or who are said to be available (Ballard, by the way, said “probably 80 percent” of those rumors are not actually true).
But there’s a big difference between wanting to make a deal, and actually executing one.
“It always takes two teams to tango,” Ballard said. “And you can want (to make moves), but it doesn’t mean the other team (and) you agree on the compensation that needs to be done to get the trade done. So we’ll see.”
Ballard did not make any trades at or near the deadline last season in his first year as Colts general manager either, though he certainly isn’t afraid to swap players or picks at other times of the year. Here’s a look at some of the more major trades the team has made since last year:
» March 9, 2017: Acquired a 2017 fourth-round pick from the New England Patriots in exchange for tight end Dwayne Allen and a 2017 sixth-round pick.
» Aug. 28, 2017: Acquired safety Ronald Martin from the New York Jets in exchange for long snapper Thomas Hennessy.
» Sept. 2, 2017: Acquired quarterback Jacoby Brissett from the Patriots in exchange for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett.
» March 17, 2018: Acquired the first-round (6th overall), two second-round (37th overall and 49th overall) 2018 selections and a second-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft from the Jets in exchange for the first round (3rd overall) selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.
» April 28, 2018: Acquired a 2018 seventh-round pick from the Jets in exchange for defensive end Henry Anderson.
» Sept. 1: Acquired wide receiver Marcus Johnson from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for tight end Darrell Daniels.
While the Colts decided not to make any moves today, Ballard is confident in the current state of the franchise, as well as where he sees it going. The team has eight guaranteed draft picks next year, a number that could go as high as 10 depending on the league’s compensatory picks system.
Drafting and developing your own players, Ballard said, is much more preferred to bringing in new pieces midseason — although he'll never rule out that possibility moving forward.
“I’ve always said football is the ultimate team sport where all 11 guys have to be on the same page, and if one of them messes up, it screws up everything. And so being able to add a guy is hard to do,” Ballard said. “It’s very difficult to do. Can it be done? Absolutely it can. But you need to make sure you’re getting the right fit, the right person, the right fit for the scheme — all that stuff has to match up for it to happen.”