The Indianapolis Colts will keep their GM and coach pairing together for another handful of seasons.
Indy inked general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich to contract extensions through the 2026 season, the team announced Wednesday.
"In Chris Ballard and Frank Reich, we have as great a general manager-head coach combination as there is in the NFL, and I can't tell you how proud I am to have them leading our franchise," Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a statement. "I truly believe this football team is on the doorstep of great things, and that's because of the culture both have cultivated in their time with the Horseshoe. Whether we are marching toward the playoffs or facing adversity, whether we are building our roster or making a difference in the community, we have the ideal leaders in Chris and Frank."
Ballard, who was under contract through 2022, joined the Colts in 2017 after four years as an executive in Kansas City. The Colts have gone 32-32 in four regular seasons under the GM and 1-2 in the postseason. Considered one of the best GMs in the league, Ballard is a tactical negotiator who doesn't spend money willy-nilly. He's handed out big extensions this offseason -- most recently to star linebacker Darius Leonard. Ballard owns very much a draft-and-develop mentality rather than leaning on free agency as his main method of team-building.
The biggest question for the highly praised GM has been the QB position, which has changed each year he's been in Indy. Andrew Luck missed Ballard's first season due to injury, returned for a playoff run in Year 2, then stunningly retired, putting the GM in a tough spot. After a year with veteran Philip Rivers under center, Ballard swung big on Carson Wentz, trading a potential first-rounder for the struggling QB. A Wentz injury in camp already has the plans for 2021 in jeopardy. How Ballard handles his quarterback position will tell the tale of his next phase in charge of Indy.
A big reason for Ballard's faith in Wentz was Reich. The coach has proven in three years that he can get the most out of players. In three years at the helm, Reich has a 28-20 record, with the playoff appearances and a 1-2 postseason record.
A former quarterback, Reich commands the locker room, never seems lost in his media appearances and runs a consistent, complementary offense. The Colts under Reich have never looked out of sorts or in disarray.
"I really believe that you will see a golden era develop as we go into this decade sitting here in 2021," Irsay said in March. "I believe it with all my heart and soul. There is good reason to believe it. You talk to people around the league and people that know, they are going to agree with what I'm saying when they look at Chris Ballard and Frank Reich and the expectations going into this decade that we have for both of them leading the team."
Handing both contract extensions underscores Irsay's belief that the future of his team is in great hands.