INDIANAPOLIS — Methodical.
That can be one way to describe first-year Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard's approach to free agency, which began at 4 p.m. ET on March 9, some 11-plus days ago.
The team, as Ballard had mentioned previously could be the case, isn't necessarily making any huge splashes, apart from trading No. 1 tight end Dwayne Allen to the New England Patriots. But that move was made because the team had decided to re-sign — and promote — tight end Jack Doyle, who is coming off a career year.
The team, to this point, has made it a point to re-sign its productive free agents — guys like Doyle, defensive back Darius Butler and running back Robert Turbin — while bringing in young outsiders who have seemed been signed to low-risk/high-reward contracts.
Ballard's approach so far is obvious: shore up the defense. Since free agency began, the Colts have added three new outside linebackers, a defensive end, a nose tackle and an inside linebacker. Compare that to one offensive lineman, one tight end and one punter for the other aspects of the team.
There will surely be other moves made, but for now, let's take a look back at some of the top quotes from Ballard, head coach Chuck Pagano, and the signees themselves, who hope to mesh early and often to get the franchise back on top in the AFC South Division:
• "I don't want to create the misconception that we are never going to hit free agency. That's not right. What I am going to say though is when we do dip into free agency and sign other players we have to be right on the player we sign." — Colts general manager Chris Ballard, asked about his approach to free agency.
• "The scouting staff, the coaching staff, everybody in the organization is working extremely hard. We have one vision, we have one goal. We are like-minded, the entire organization is like-minded. I think communication is outstanding, I think that's obviously huge. It's all good, we are off to a great start." — Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, on the how the relationship between Ballard and himself is forming.
• "It's nice to have the process over with The whole free agency is a crazy thing. … I'm so excited to be back and can't wait to just get back to football." — Colts tight end Jack Doyle, who was re-signed to a three-year contract just before the start of free agency.
• "It's been a long week. The process is always a little different, but you know, glad to be back, glad to be back in the building, still playing in front of the fans at Lucas Oil (Stadium), and I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead." — Colts defensive back Darius Butler, whom the Colts re-signed to a one-year deal.
• "Just, for one, to have a place that I can call home for a couple years — and hopefully more — to be able to come back and team up with some of the guys that I was teammates with last year that I developed relationships with last year and good chemistry and camaraderie, I mean, it's great. It's a different feeling to be able to step on the field and play your heart out with people that you can call friends; that you develop a genuine friendship with over the course of a year." Colts running back Robert Turbin, whom the Colts re-signed to a two-year deal.
• "I'm really looking forward to kind of jumping in and doing my best to help out … I'm definitely looking forward to working with both of those guys. They're both pro's pros, especially Adam, who has essentially played two seasons of most people's NFL career, which is awesome." New Colts punter Jeff Locke, on teaming with kicker Adam Vinatieri and long snapper Matt Overton to form the team's new "Fourth Down Army."
• "Just a grinder. I try to do everything the right way. I'm going to play 60 minutes plus. I'm a great locker room guy. I will give you everything I have on a daily basis. … I'll bring a toughness and nastiness to the defense." — Colts free agent signee John Simon, one of the team's newest outside linebackers.
• "I told (Pagano), 'We've got to get back there. That feeling is unbelievable and I think everybody should feel that.' Obviously, the first half (of Super Bowl LI) was pretty scary. But it was exciting. (Winning the Super Bowl) was one of the greatest feelings ever." — Colts free agent signee Jabaal Sheard, another talented pass rusher who won Super Bowl LI with the New England Patriots.
• "I didn't know anything about the organization, but I'm glad I reached out to (past Colts) and got that insight. It definitely made the decision easier and I second everything that they said after being here and meeting with all the coaches and being in the building." — Colts free agent signee Barkevious Mingo, an outside linebacker who was picked sixth overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2013 NFL Draft and has since been a Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots.
• "The big reason I wanted to be here was they were going to give me an opportunity to compete to start on Sundays." — Colts free agent signee Brian Schwenke, an offensive lineman who had started 28 games in the past four seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
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