Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard promised to be smart in free agency.
He declined to be swayed by splashy moves and refused to overspend 鈥?on his players or anyone else's.
Now Ballard is diving head first into the second wave of free agency. After signing tight end Eric Ebron on Monday Jets Terrelle Pryor Sr. Jersey , he added receiver Ryan Grant and offensive lineman Matt Slauson on Tuesday.
"I'm going to bring myself and everything that comes with me which is energy, fun, excitement and a will to win," Ebron said on a conference call Monday night. "Everything after that, you guys are going to have to see for yourself because I've learned a lesson not to talk about anything before it happens."
Ballard is sticking to his game plan.
He has repeatedly said he intends to build through the draft, develop players in-house and merely supplement the Colts' roster in free agency.
Even though he went into the offseason with more than $70 million to spend, he's remained frugal.
ESPN has reported that Ebron's deal is for two years and up to $15 million. Slauson signed a one-year deal worth $3 million, and Grant agreed to a one-year deal worth $5 million after initially joining Baltimore 鈥?the Ravens cut him loose after he failed a physical. Grant injured his ankle in Week 17 and has been working his way back. He was surprised by the Ravens' decision.
"I can't control what they did. I can't control their assessment of my ankle," Grant said during a conference call. "I've gone other places, I've seen multiple doctors and I've passed physicals, so that should pretty much speak for itself."
The only other player Indianapolis has signed is defensive lineman Denico Autry, who signed a three-year deal worth $17.8 million.
All four fill needs, though.
Autry recorded a career-high five sacks with the Oakland Raiders last season and could help new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus create a more consistent pass rush. The Colts finished 31st in the NFL last year with 25 sacks.
Grant spent his first four seasons with the Washington Redskins and is expected to compete with Chester Rogers for the starting job opposite Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton following Donte Moncrief's departure. The 6-foot Authentic James Washington Jersey , 204-pound Grant produced his best season in 2017 鈥?45 receptions, 573 yards and four TDs.
Slauson has started 108 games since entering the league with the New York Jets in 2009. He was in Chicago when Ballard was working with the Bears, and Slauson played for new Colts offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo with both the Jets and Chargers.
Ebron, the Detroit Lions' first-round pick in 2014, was released last week after developing a reputation for dropping passes. In Indianapolis, he'll have a chance to jump-start his career playing alongside Jack Doyle, who appeared in his first Pro Bowl last season, and Erik Swoope, a converted basketball player who climbed into the No. 2 spot on the Colts' depth chart.
The happiest guy might be Andrew Luck, who gets two new receivers and a potential upgrade along the line, which has been a major hole since Luck entered the league as the top overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Slauson has played both guard and center and is willing to do either with his new team.
Ballard's biggest offseason move was the trade he pulled off Saturday.
He swapped first-round picks with the Jets, giving up the No. 3 overall pick to get the No. 6 pick and two additional second-round picks this year and the Jets' second-round pick in 2019. That deal gives Indianapolis four picks in the top 50 this year and three picks in the first two rounds next year.
"We need to add some young talent to this roster," Ballard told the team's web site following the trade. "So the ability to tab seven guys in the next two years who are all first and second round picks over the next two years was attractive to us."
Third-year pro Kenyan Drake has been with the Miami Dolphins longer than any other running back on their roster LeSean McCoy Bills Jersey , which gives him seniority of sorts – except that new backup Frank Gore is 35 years old.
Even so, Drake considers his maturity an asset for a change entering his first full season as the starter.
He performed well in the No. 1 role after starter Jay Ajayi was traded to Philadelphia at midseason last year. Drake gave Miami a much-needed big-play threat, had back-to-back 100-yard games, finished with 644 yards rushing and averaged 4.8 yards per carry, which ranked sixth in the NFL.
Drake has touchdowns of 96, 66, 45 and 42 yards for the Dolphins, with the longest coming on a kickoff return. But as they prepare for another season during this month’s OTAs, Drake said he should have made more of an impact sooner.
The third-down draft pick out of Alabama in 2016 had only a small role his first year.
”My rookie year was a big learning experience,” Drake said Tuesday. ”I just wasn’t mentally prepared to handle the workload of an everyday starter. I came up short.”
Now, he said, he’s ready. And he needs to be, given typically heavy recent roster turnover.
”I’m the longest-tenured running back http://www.redskinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jonathan-allen-jersey , which is pretty interesting,” he said. ”Two years ago I was coming in fresh-faced. Funny how time flies. I’m definitely embracing this role, and trying to help this team win a lot more games in the coming years.”
He said he’ll benefit from guidance by Gore, the NFL’s active career rushing leader, who signed with his hometown team as a free agent in March.
”I always remind Frank that when he first came into the league, I was in fifth or sixth grade,” Drake said with a chuckle. ”If I have half the success he has had in his career, that would be a win in my book.”
Coach Adam Gase expects a lot of success for Drake, and confirmed the young pro has matured.
”When you’re in this league, sometimes there’s a little bit of a feeling-out process,” Gase said. ”You’re trying to figure out, who are you? You’re starting to get older. You really realize this is a job, and it’s different than college.
”I see a different guy – the way he prepares 49ers Mike McGlinchey Jersey , knowing the situation he’s coming into this year. I think we just have a guy that’s really looking to bust out.”
Drake is part of a much different offense this year. Ryan Tannehill returns at quarterback after missing all of last season because of a knee injury, and the Dolphins added several new pass targets and two starters on the offensive line.
Miami sputtered to a 6-10 finish in 2017, and the dismal season was a new experience for Drake, who lost six games in four years of college.
”I love to win,” he said. ”That’s why I went to Alabama.”
The championship pedigree was one reason the Dolphins drafted Drake. It also factored into their decision to take Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round of last month’s draft.
Good choice, according to Fitzpatrick’s former and new teammate.
”At Alabama, Minkah was a professional from the jump,” Drake said. ”It’s rare you see a freshman come in and have that mentality of, `I want to work, I want to be the best.’ I feel like he is going to be in this league a very, very long time.”
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