Colts G.M. emphasizes competition, and numbers

AP

The Colts have been one of the busiest teams in free agency since Chris Ballard took over as General Manager.

They needed to be.

Ballard has added 12 veteran free agents and 18 new players total since taking over in January, and has made it clear the roster needs to be upgraded from top to bottom.

“We’re always going to be trying to add competition and I think I’ve said this numerous times: player acquisition is 365 days and we’re always going to be active on the roster,’’ Ballard said, via Mike Chappell of WTTV. “We knew we had some holes that we needed to fill and I thought free agency helped us do it.’’

Ballard inherited a very top-heavy roster. He has a franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck and some good parts on offense, but not much else. So it’s instructive to see his approach to fixing things on the other side of the ball.

They’ve signed five linebackers, at least two of whom (Jabaal Sheard and John Simon) are penciled into the starting lineup. Spending money on defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins was important as they try to add some ballast up front to allow those guys to make plays.

Now, he has seven draft picks, all in the first five rounds, to add to his rebuild. And he’s making sure everyone knows it will take time.

“It takes time, like anything,’’ he said. “It takes time to build a team. It takes time to build a defense, an offense and have them all come together. Do we have work in front of us? Yes, we do.

“The biggest thing I want to make sure that we’re emphasizing is that competition and they have to earn it. Doesn’t matter where you come from and how we build it – from first-round pick to undrafted free agent to street free agent, guy that was cut at the 53, future signing.’’

What Ballard won’t say but others can is he inherited kind of a mess from previous G.M. Ryan Grigson, who also signed a bunch of free agents, but they didn’t turn out right. That alone gives Ballard time to fix it, and having a healthy Luck will give him an opportunity.