Chris Ballard echoes Mike Tomlin; NFL teams should want volunteers, not hostages

NFL: AUG 21 Preseason - Colts at Vikings
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A trend has emerged in the NFL, with teams abandoning the “play for us or play for no one” attitude toward unhappy players and facilitating their departures to a team for which they’d rather play. The Colts benefited from that approach in March, via the ability to trade for quarterback Matt Ryan.

Earlier this week, I asked Colts G.M. Chris Ballard about the willingness of teams to move on from unhappy players. Ballard borrowed a line from Pittsburgh’s coach, who has made it clear repeatedly that he prefers volunteers to hostages.

“Mike Tomlin says it best,” Ballard explained. “I always say, ‘You want volunteers.’ You want people that want to be here. So when you get a player who doesn’t want to be in your organization anymore, you can play hardball — which sometimes we all do — but you want volunteers. You want people who want to be here.

“Like the one good thing about the NFL and just football in general, like team still wins. Team still wins. Every player’s important. But them coming together and playing for each other, that still wins. And it’s the great thing about our game. And I think it’s what gives it such great parity in our league. The teams that figure it out, come together, they usually are the teams that end up winning.”

That’s the key. Having unhappy players in the building disrupt the very delicate yet critical balance that is required to play consistent winning football.

“It’s hard to win one game,” Ballard said. “Sometimes I think  people forget that. Like just winning one game on Sunday is hard. And then to win enough to get into the playoffs and make a real push is very difficult. So everybody’s gotta be paddling in the same direction and working together to get that done. And it doesn’t take much to get the boat off course if you don’t have that happening in your building.”

It’s an important point. And it’s something that the Browns need to consider as they figure out the future with Baker Mayfield. He doesn’t want to be on the team. The Browns don’t want him on the team. The best approach is to come up with a way to let him move on, because the Browns at this point need him to.

They have enough distractions without him on the team. Forcing him to stick around when he doesn’t want to be there won’t many things better. It will only make things worse.

5 responses to “Chris Ballard echoes Mike Tomlin; NFL teams should want volunteers, not hostages

  1. It’s a Pandora’s box. You start getting more players on multi year deals wanting out just because the team is in a decline. Why is it okay to accept “guaranteed” money or signing bonuses but then not want to play where you signed that contract?

  2. “Volunteers?” Huh? What? Really? Making NFL salaries? Am I missing something here?

  3. Says one of the GM’s who could have “free’d Baker” but chose not to.

  4. Of course you want players who are “all in” vs. malcontents. There: am I now qualified to be an NFL GM?

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