According to The Athletic’s Zak Keefer (subscription), Indianapolis Colts team owner Jim Irsay plans on extending his general manager Chris Ballard’s contract at some point before training camp begins next July:
“It’s why Irsay intends on extending Ballard’s contract at some point before training camp begins next July, [Irsay] said Monday night. Ballard is currently signed through May 2022; Irsay expects the deal to get done without any snags several months before the contract is set to expire.
He likened the impending negotiations to what he used to do with former team president Bill Polian, who was with the Colts from 1998 through 2011.
‘Those conversations wouldn’t take longer than 10, 15 minutes,’ Irsay said, ‘and usually we got it done on a cocktail napkin.’
For his side, Ballard isn’t planning on being anywhere else.”
This should hardly come as a shock given Ballard’s complete body of work over the past four seasons with the Colts. Obviously, continuity can be key in the NFL too, especially among an organization’s top leadership.
While Ballard has not been perfect in Indianapolis since his arrival in 2017, he’s been a A LOT more good than bad—even at times, great, and done so with the utmost character and candor.
He’s quickly become one of the top NFL general managers in the game—given his overall player evaluation, salary cap management, and confident, but still caring leadership style.
The 51 year old won the Pro Football Writers Association’s (PFWA’s) Executive of the Year in 2018, following his loaded draft class which now includes two, 2x NFL All-Pros: Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard, as well as several key contributors (including stalwart starting right tackle Braden Smith and elusive scatback Nyheim Hines).
Ballard later earned the PFWA’s 2020 Jack Horrigan Award, which is given annually to the league or team official, who has qualities and a professional style in best helping the pro football writers perform their jobs.
He was more recently voted the NFL’s most trustworthy executive and best talent evaluator by 30 certified player representatives.
Despite abruptly (and shockingly) losing franchise quarterback Andrew Luck to retirement just weeks ahead of the 2019 season, Ballard has still built a well-rounded team stockpiled with young talent on both sides of the ball—but still complemented by a handful of veteran players, that remains highly competitive and can hold its own against anyone.
Ballard has the Colts back in the playoffs with an 11-5 record following his big offseason acquisitions of All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and veteran quarterback Philip Rivers—both of whom have been just what the doctor ordered for a rebound season, after Indianapolis missed the postseason in 2019.
Not to mention, his 2020 NFL Rookie draft class already features two potential All-Rookie Team members: running back Jonathan Taylor and safety Julian Blackmon, as well as wideout Michael Pittman Jr., who showed flashes of his high potential as well.
Ballard has been all business in Indianapolis, and so far, the business has been pretty darn good—with a high character leader calling the shots. He’s preached patience, but the Colts are well built both now and for the foreseeable future.