Chris Ballard hasn't been very active in free agency, but that hasn't stopped the Colts from receiving some praise from the national media.
In Friday's 2021 NFL Free-Agency Awards article by Bleacher Report staff members, the Colts were featured heavily, landing accolades for best trade, best extension or re-signing, and biggest winner (player, team, coach, etc.).
Best Trade: Indianapolis Colts acquire QB Carson Wentz from Philadelphia Eagles
This should not come as a surprise to readers. While some national pundits have soured on Wentz completely and did not like the Colts' move for Wentz, B/R's Brad Gagnon listed the Wentz trade as the best trade of the offseason.
"The Colts are in win-now mode, they lacked the draft capital to chase down one of this year's blue-chip rookies, and Wentz had the best year of his career under at least the partial tutelage of Indy head coach Frank Reich.
"I'm down with Indianapolis' gamble that the former standout's disastrous 2020 campaign in Philly was an aberration and that he can bounce back. It's worth giving up a pair of Day 2 draft picks, one of which is a year away and can only become a first-rounder if Wentz hits playing-time incentives. And what amounts to a two-year, $47.4 million deal with two team option years on the end isn't backbreaking for an Indy team that is smart with its money."
It's hard to disagree with Gagnon here.
Yes, the Colts are in win-now mode, and they didn't have to pay that high of a price for a former star quarterback like some other teams have in the past. Should Wentz rebound like many expect him to, the 2021 third-round pick and a possible 2022 first-round pick will look like a real bargain.
There's no denying Wentz is an uber-talented QB. Things went south in Philadelphia on the field with injuries, lack of production and lack of protection around him. That won't be the case in Indianapolis.
Best Extension or Re-Signing: Indianapolis Colts re-sign CB Xavier Rhodes to a one-year, $4.8 million contract
What was arguably the most important move of the offseason - in terms of retaining their own free agents - was re-signing Xavier Rhodes coming off of a stellar season in Indianapolis.
The fact that Ballard and the Colts grabbed Rhodes for another year at $4.8 million was quite the steal. Sure, Rhodes will be 31 years old at the start of the season, but his age hasn't been a factor, and led to B/R's Gary Davenport tabbing the Rhodes re-signing as the best of free agency.
"Last year, the Colts took a one-year flier on Rhodes, a three-time Pro Bowler who fell out of favor in Minnesota. Rhodes rewarded the team's faith in him and then some. His completion percentage against dropped almost 30 percent relative to his last season with the Vikings, and his passer rating against free-fell nearly 40 points.
"Given that resurgence, one would think the market for Rhodes' services would have been robust. But with so many NFL teams tight against the salary cap, that market never materialized. The Colts were able to circle back and re-up Rhodes on another one-year deal for a larcenous $4.8 million."
The Rhodes move is the type of move great franchises with stability and the right people in charge make. That's the case with Ballard, who has been smart with his money and has let older guys hit the open market, determining their own value.
By re-signing Rhodes, the Colts return their No. 1 cornerback to a defense that looks to take another step forward. Knowing that they'd likely lose Denico Autry, Anthony Walker Jr. and Malik Hooker in free agency, and possibly Justin Houston, retaining Rhodes is huge for the 2021 Colts' outlook.
Biggest Winner (player, team, coach, etc.): Carson Wentz
This seems like an easy one to get behind.
Wentz changes locations, lands with a familiar face with which he has a relationship off the field with in head coach Frank Reich, and steps into an offense with an elite stable of running backs, top talent and receiver and arguably the best offensive line in football.
B/R's Brent Sobelski seems to agree, tabbing Wentz as his biggest winner of free agency.
"The Eagles' relationship with Wentz became toxic. Meanwhile, the roster began to crumble. Wentz was losing confidence while trying to shoulder the offense. The 28-year-old former face of the Eagles franchise gets to start fresh with the Colts after general manager Chris Ballard sent a 2021 third-round and 2022 conditional second-round draft pick to Philadelphia.
"Wentz enters the best situation for him to reach a higher standard of performance. The quarterback has a previous working relationship with Colts head coach Frank Reich, wide receivers coach Mike Groh and offensive assistant Press Taylor. Plus, Wentz will get to play behind one of the league's better offensive lines and hand the ball to last year's breakout star, Jonathan Taylor."
In Reich's system in 2017, Wentz finished third in the MVP voting despite tearing his ACL late in the season on the road against the Los Angeles Rams. While the system isn't exactly the same as it was in Philadelphia, Wentz is familiar with the concepts and the terminology, and shouldn't have to worry about remaining upright in the pocket with that offensive line in front of him.
He'll also benefit from the Colts' terrific run game, which will take a ton of pressure off of him early in the season, letting him lean on the stable of backs and become comfortable in the Colts' offense.
Looking around the league, it's hard to find a better landing spot for Wentz after the disastrous final two years in Philadelphia.
Have thoughts on the Bleacher Report's awards for the Colts? Drop a line in the comments section below.