Ballard has been gaining praise among his peers

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    because of his amazing ability at finding great value in free-agency , a talent required to build great teams without sacrificing long term stability.” />Skip to main contentclockmenumore-arrownoyesHorizontal – WhiteStampede Bluean Indianapolis Colts communityLog In or Sign UpLog InSign UpFanpostsFanshotsColtsShopAboutMastheadCommunity GuidelinesStubHubMoreAll 322 blogs on Horizontal – WhiteFanposts Fanshots Colts StoriesScheduleRosterStatsYahoo Colts NewsYahoo Colts Team PageYahoo Colts ReportYahoo Colts Depth ChartYahoo Colts TransactionsYahoo Colts PhotosShop About Masthead Community Guidelines StubHub ✕How to get value in free-agency: A class given by Chris BallardNew,46commentsBallard has been gaining praise among his peers because of his amazing ability at finding great value in free-agency, a talent required to build great teams without sacrificing long term stability.EDTShareTweetShareShareHow to get value in free-agency: A class given by Chris BallardPhoto by Michael Reaves/Getty ImagesFree agents signed by Chris Ballard2017YearsTotal SalaryGuaranteed MoneyAverage Salary2017YearsTotal SalaryGuaranteed MoneyAverage SalaryChris Ballard might be the best GM to have in free-agency in the NFL. Not only does he avoid handing out big-time contracts that handcuff the franchise’s future, but he also seems to find great value in the second tier of free-agency, the period after all the blue-chip players have signed. After watching players that would have helped the Colts tremendously, like Trey Flowers, Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Tyrell Williams, or Le’Veon Bell sign elsewhere, all while the Colts had the most cap space in the NFL by a mile, many fans were questioning whether Ballard had made the right decision avoiding to splurge on the big free-agent targets.Looking at his past track record, and the players he was able to sign relatively cheap in the second wave of free-agency, the answer is simply yes. Super Bowl winners are (avoiding some exceptions) simply not built through free-agency. All these so called “off-season winners” are being labeled as the next sensation teams in the NFL, while the Colts, flying under-the-radar, had an excellent free-agency, maybe even perfect if they manage to re-sign Inman for cheap. While mediocre teams like the Lions, Jets, Raiders, and Jaguars were giving out guaranteed money and long-term contracts like the Texans O-Line gives up sacks Indianapolis Colts Hoodie , the Colts sat quietly and waited for solid players to fall through the cracks. On his first off-season as the Colts general manager, Ballard invested heavily on the defensive line, with mixed results. Nose tackle Johnathan Hankins was the big name for the Colts. After a solid first season, he was cut mainly due to scheme fit. Because of how his contract was structured, (another great facet of Ballard) there was little to no dead money. Edge defender Jabaal Sheard has been solid in his two seasons with the Colts, being an average run defender and pass-rusher and perhaps the most consistent Colts player on the defensive line. With Houston drawing attention for him, he could explode for double digit sacks this year. Opposite edge defender John Simon looked like the Colts defensive MVP in the first 6 games of the 2017 season, but after going down with a neck injury, he was never the same and was later released, yet again, with nearly no dead money. Al Woods and Margus Hunt have been serviceable rotation pieces. Woods was not re-signed, as he is an extremely one-dimensional player and was getting old, and Hunt was resigned this off-season to a 2 year/$9 million deal with no guaranteed money after this season.For his sophomore season, Ballard truly knocked the ball out of the park. Last years Colts’ free-agency was one of the best in recent memory, considering how little the Colts gave out and the return they got. Denico Autry was signed from Oakland and had a remarkable season. He lead the team with 9 sacks and his versatility on the defensive line was very important down the line. Next is Eric Ebron, who has to be one of the best free-agent signings over the last decade. After struggling to start his career with the Lions, Ebron was signed on a cheap, two-year contract. Ebron exploded into the scene and asserted himself as a top 4 tight-end in the NFL. He recorded 66 receptions, 750 yards and an astounding 14 total touchdowns, good for 5th in the League and tied with players such as Melvin Gordon or Tyreek Hill. Ryan Grant and Austin Howard did not pan out, but because they were signed on one-year contracts , there were no long-term ramifications. Matt Slauson had a solid start to the season, but then was put on IR and served as a mentor through the rest of the year.Entering his third off-season as the Colts GM, and after a playoff victory, many expected Ballard to shell out the big bucks and go guns blazing into free-agency, instead, he stayed true to his M.O and waited out the first frenzy, looking for the best value. He got it in the form of pass-rusher Justin Houston. A generational talent that can help the Colts right away. Even though he is 30, Houston is still a game-changer on defense with the potential to rack up double-digit sacks. Ballard also did an impeccable job at resigning talent already on the roster. Starting right guard Mark Glowinski had a fine season stepping up for injured Matt Slauson and was rewarded with a 3 year contract. In comparison, guard Rodger Saffold II received $44 million ($19M guaranteed) from the Titans. Pierre Desir was resigned for a cheap $7.5M a year, specially after his shutdown performance on DeAndre Hopkins in the playoffs. Clayton Geathers was also resigned on a one-year deal. The one odd signing Ballard made was giving wide receiver Devin Funchess a one-year $10M deal, as Funchess is a young, unpolished player who never really took off in the League.Overall, it is worth noting that Ballard never gave out a contract longer than 4 years or worth more than $20M in guaranteed money. With some big name players set to hit the open market, Ballard will be forced to hand out some important extensions in the next two years, so the cap space will be imperative for the Colts to help maintain their homegrown talent in Indy. All in all, Ballard is one of the best GMs in football for a reason, and his approach to free-agency should be copied by every team in the rest of the League. He has proven he won’t overpay for players that are asking for more than what the Colts consider they are worth, and he is also amazing at finding high-ceiling, talented players, without jeopardizing the team’s financial security. DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The subject was playing through pain Khari Willis Jersey , and Miami Dolphins running back Frank Gore drew on his extensive experience to share his thoughts with teammate Ryan Tannehill.Gore’s an ageless model of durability, while Tannehill plans to return from a throwing shoulder injury and start for only the sixth time in the Dolphins’ past 31 games when they play Sunday at Indianapolis .“He knows how much we need him,” Gore said. “It’s football, though. Everybody is going to be in pain from here on out. Talking to him when he wasn’t playing, he wanted to be out there. He knows that he’s going to be in pain, but you can tell that he wants to play, so that’s a plus for us.”The 35-year-old Gore will be in the lineup too, which almost goes without saying. He’ll start his 119th consecutive game, by far the most of any active running back.That includes 48 games with the Colts in 2015-17. They then let Gore go, providing him with a little extra motivation when he faces his former team.Not that he needs any.“I want to win,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and try to be me.”The Colts know he’ll do that, and remember Gore fondly.“He’s the kind of teammates everyone wants to have,” Indy quarterback Andrew Luck said. “He always seemed like he was a step ahead, and I’d say, ‘How did you know that?’ And it was always hard for him to explain. He just knew.”The Dolphins (5-5) can count Gore as one of the bright spots in a season full of downers. He beat out the more explosive Kenyan Drake for the starting job and leads the team with 528 yards rushing, padding a career total that is the highest among active players and fourth on the all-time list.And this year may not be his swan song. Gore’s yards per carry average of 4.5 is his best since 2012 with San Francisco. Anyone who has watched him break tackle after tackle this year can believe he’ll be back at 36.“I feel like as long as I’m healthy and blessed and feeling good and know I can still play, I’m going to play,” he said. “I’ll evaluate myself at the end, my body, and see if I still want to go out in the offseason and train to get ready for another year. That’s when I’ll make my decision.”He’s already a rarity at a position not known for longevity. Last week he became the first player to rush for 500 yards in 14 consecutive seasons, one more than Hall of Famers Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.The achievement won Gore plaudits from around the NFL — and beyond.“Frank is my favorite player of all-time that I’ve ever coached ,” said former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who is now at the University of Michigan. “Surpassing Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith is incredible, just incredible.”Equally impressed — but not surprised — is Dolphins coach Adam Gase. He was a 49ers assistant in 2008, when Gore ran for 1,036 yards for them.“Our guys watch him practice, and it’s almost like you forget where he’s at in his career,” Gase said. “He treats it like he’s an undrafted free agent almost. He practices extremely hard. He finishes everything he does. There’s a lot of pride there. Seeing him 10 years ago and then seeing him now, there’s just not a lot of differences in how he plays and what he can do.”Gore is still chasing a Super Bowl championship ring, and hasn’t been to the playoffs in five years. He thought he would get there with the Colts, but injuries to Luck and others sabotaged their chances.“It just didn’t go the way I planned it, but I had fun,” Gore said. “The organization was great. Great people there. We fought.”It has been more of the same in Gore’s native Miami, with his homecoming undermined by a wave of injuries to Tannehill and others.Meanwhile, the old man at running back just keeps showing up for work. Others may be surprised Gore is still going strong, but he’s not.“I know how I train,” he said. “I know how I go out every day in practice. I know in the offseason how I get myself ready. Competing with guys younger than me at my position, being around them every day, that helps me.”And he learned a long time ago how to play through pain.

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