Videos by OutKick
One of the most interesting subplots of this offseason is the Indianapolis Colts. They need a quarterback, that much is clear. But owner Jim Irsay and GM Chris Ballard appear to disagree on the best solution.
Ballard talked about doing due diligence on Lamar Jackson, who wants to be traded by Baltimore.
OutKick’s Armando Salguero laid out the reasons that Jackson makes a lot of sense for Indianapolis.
But Irsay doesn’t seem to be behind that idea. First, he doesn’t want to give Jackson a fully-guaranteed contract. That’s something Jackson is reportedly seeking.
“For me, for the good of the game, boy, I don’t believe fully guaranteed contracts would be good for our game at all, at all,” Irsay said, according to The Athletic. “I’ve seen what it’s done to other sports leagues and I just don’t think that it’s a positive.
“I line up more with the old-school owners, the Rooneys, the Maras, the Halases. Everyone has to change with the times, that sort of thing. Our game is great and it’s great for a number of reasons, but I don’t think guaranteed contracts make our game greater, I think it makes it worse.”
Irsay also talked up the idea of having a quarterback on a rookie deal. That is an extremely valuable commodity, no doubt.
“I mean, the issue is, what’s the right thing to do for the franchise, in terms of what helps us win in the long run? I mean, you need more than just a quarterback,” Irsay said.
“When you have a rookie quarterback, it gives you the opportunity to build a franchise for the first three or four years. If you have a rookie quarterback, you know, you’re going to have a chance for those years to really have extra dollars to make your team better so.”
Jim Irsay, Chris Ballard appear to disagree on the best option for the Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback next season
He’s not wrong about that. The problem is that his general manager, Chris Ballard, doesn’t seem to think any of the quarterbacks available in the NFL Draft are that guy.
Ballard discussed the Carolina Panthers trading up to #1 to, almost certainly, draft a quarterback. The Colts GM practically admitted that the players available aren’t worth the haul that the Panthers gave to Chicago.
“Didn’t wanna make a blind decision without all the information,” Ballard said, according to The Athletic. “And I know people might not understand that. But I think just history kind of tells you that, when you do that, you better know what you’re getting, and we weren’t quite ready to do that at that time. And then we feel like there’s enough depth in the draft that we were going to be OK.”
Sure, one could interpret that quote as he’s comfortable with any of the four top prospects. But I don’t see it that way. Ballard is clearly saying he’s not willing to give up draft capital or roster players for CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson or Will Levis.
And, based on his comments about Lamar Jackson, that’s a much more preferred option. Jackson is going to cost two first-round picks, at minimum. Carolina gave up more than that to jump up to #1 overall.
Chris Ballard knows that his job could be on the line. Jim Irsay didn’t agree with the move to bring in Carson Wentz in 2021 and said as much.
“I did not want to do it … I wasn’t for it, and I voiced that,” Irsay said. But he allowed his management team to execute that trade anyway. It’s unlikely he’s going to allow that to happen again.
So, you have a GM who wants Lamar Jackson, another veteran quarterback. Of course he does; there’s no question that the 2023-24 Indianapolis Colts are better with Jackson than any of the rookie QBs. And Ballard needs to start winning, now.
But Irsay wants to build a team around a rookie quarterback because it’s more cost efficient.
Likely, the GM is going to have to go along with that plan. At the end of the day, you have to do what your boss tells you, even if you don’t like it.
Ballard may not like it, but Irsay is the boss.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak