INDIANAPOLIS – Just prior to the 2017 NFL Combine, reports leaked that Jack Doyle was likely to test the free agent market, with the Colts and their hometown tight end not close on a new contract.
Ideally, at last week's Combine, Chris Ballard would have provided some insight into Doyle, when the new GM met the media.
While Ballard wasn't asked directly about Doyle, one answer, explaining his thoughts on free agency, might have well been screaming "No. 84."
Here was Ballard's philosophy on free agency:
"Let me give you an example, you pay a guy a lot of money and you plug him into the locker room," Ballard began. "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."
When it comes to a guy universally adored by a locker room, you won't find many more loved than Doyle.
In his four seasons with the Colts, the 26-year-old Doyle has yet to miss a game due to injury. He's been a special teams contributor, done the dirty work as a fullback and slid into more of the spotlight this past season as the NFL's most reliable tight end.
Doyle had the highest catch percentage of tight ends with at least 50 targets in 2016 (78.6 catch percentage). When Andrew Luck targeted Doyle last season, he had a passer rating of 110.2.
Even though Doyle is technically the No. 2 tight end in Indianapolis, he's a starter and a major contributor.
The Colts had Doyle in the starting lineup 14 times last season. He played the 14th most snaps of any NFL tight end last season and was by far the team's most consistent pass catcher not named T.Y. Hilton.
"Jack is a consummate professional who is highly revered among all in this organization," Ballard said after inking Doyle to a deal reportedly three years in length and hovering around $20 million.
"He possesses a tremendous amount of talent and you can witness how much he loves playing the game when you watch him compete. Jack has emerged as a leader in his four seasons with this team and we're thrilled he'll be returning."
Chris Ballard used the phrase "raise your own" when expanding on his free agency plan.
Doyle is the consummate pro and it didn't take long for teammates to reach out on social media to congratulate the Indianapolis native.
Social media isn't Frank Gore's thing, but rest assured the future Hall of Fame running back was smiling when he heard the news.
"That's my man right there. That's my man," Gore says of Doyle.
"Very coachable. Smart. Very consistent. Rarely messes up. When I got here, I noticed that. I stayed in his pocket, especially knowing that he was going to be in the backfield with me at times. You can count on him for anything. He's a great player.
"I love Jack, love Jack."
The Colts agreed to terms with TE Jack Doyle.
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