INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard on Wednesday talked to the media at the NFL Scouting Combine. What were the top takeaways from his sessions?
1. The Colts are weighing the potential risks for any new players they could bring to Indy: The rumor mill has been buzzing for weeks, if not months, now about the possibility of some of the biggest upcoming free agents and/or trade targets being linked to the Colts, who have the most available cap space of any team in the league. Whether it's running back Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown or any other major playmaker expected to be available once the new league year begins March 13, however, it's just not Ballard's style to tip his hand by indicating any level of interest. But, in general, Ballard said he wouldn't shy away from those types of players, as long as the team was sure they'd be a good fit in the locker room. "We have a very strict criteria of what we want to bring in. We want players that want to get better, want to be great, want to be a part of the team, that are willing to sacrifice sometimes their individual stats for the betterment of winning and being a good teammate. If they fit into that criteria, absolutely they'll fit in."
2. Jack Doyle is expected to miss the offseason workout program: Doyle, the team's top tight end, was placed on injured reserve down the stretch last season after suffering, and undergoing surgery for, a serious kidney injury suffered Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins. The good news is all is positive on the kidney front for Doyle, but a hip injury that he suffered back in Week 2 against the Washington Redskins has continued to linger, leading to another surgical procedure this offseason. Ballard said Doyle is expected to be back by training camp. "Jack's a vet player. I trust him; trust that he's going to do everything that he can to get back," Ballard said.
3. No calls yet for Jacoby Brissett: Brissett, the Colts' talented backup quarterback, should attract plenty of suitors from QB-needy teams — it just hasn't happened yet, as Ballard said Wednesday he's received no calls inquiring about Brissett’s availability. That is expected to change, however. If and when it does change, though, Ballard said he'd have to be blown out of the water to even consider moving his safety valve at the most important position in sports. "We like Jacoby Brissett. I think I made that pretty clear," Ballard said. "I mean, it would take a lot to pry him out. Whether people agree or disagree — whatever. I know his value to us. And I think Frank (Reich) and our coaching staff would echo the same sentiments."
4. Contract talks with Clayton Geathers pick up the pace this week: Geathers is set to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career on March 13, but if Ballard has his way, the talented safety will be back in the Colts' secondary in 2019. "Do we want Clayton back? Yes. We want Clayton back," the third-year Colts general manager said Wednesday. "We'll have some good talks with his agent this week." Geathers has battled through various injuries throughout his four-year Colts career, missing four games and several other practices last season due to a variety of issues. But he is a clear difference maker when he is able to play, whether it's in the secondary or in the box as the team's primary dime linebacker.
5. The Colts might be more inclined to let other free agents test the market: Asked specifically about wide receiver Dontrelle Inman and cornerback Pierre Desir, both key contributors from 2018 who are also set to become free agents on March 13, Ballard said it's possible they will be allowed to test the free agent market instead of working out deals beforehand. But, just like Geathers, the Colts will use this week in Indianapolis at the Combine to talk to those players' agents, as well, which could lead in any number of directions. "We like 'em. Absolutely. They were great contributors to our team this year," Ballard said. "Would we like to have them back? Yeah. But, does that mean necessarily they will be back? Not necessarily."