Colts Rumors: Chris Ballard delivers a message to center Ryan Kelly
One of the biggest problems with the 2022 Indianapolis Colts was that the team’s highest-paid players didn’t live up to their expectations. Perhaps the team’s most disappointing player was center Ryan Kelly.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard told the media the team plans to keep Kelly for the 2023 season. But Ballard has also been open about his expectations of the center and other expensive players in the roster.
“Our best players have to play better,” Ballard told the media. “And we have to play better as a team.”
Kelly, the longest-serving Colts player, is entering his eighth season with the organization.
Colts retain Ryan Kelly for the 2023 season
Earlier in the offseason, Kelly was a potential cap victim for Indianapolis. The center, who turns 30 on May 30, will carry a $12.375 million cap hit for the 2023 season.
The Colts could have cut Kelly and saved almost $8 million against the cap. Ballard was also evaluating trading options for the center before deciding to keep Kelly for 2023.
“We’ve had some (trade) calls with them, but at the end of the day they’re good football players for us and they’re good people,” Ballard told the media. “When you have a good football player who is a great person and fits well, it becomes difficult to move away from these guys.”
Kelly made it to the Pro Bowl three straight years from 2019-21. From 2018–20, Pro Football Focus ranked Kelly as a top 10 center in the league.
But his PFF player grade dropped Kelly into the bottom 10 centers in 2021. According to the PFF rating system, he remained only average in 2022.
Kelly was a second-team All-Pro in 2020, but two years later he was not receiving any awards.
In addition to the money he’s owed in 2023, Kelly’s contract is expected to net him $14.625 million in 2024. Based on an average annual salary, Kelly will be the fifth most expensive center in the NFL next season.
The Colts need their Veterans Center to live up to this treaty.
Colts also retain Kenny Moore II for 2023
Ballard’s response to the possibility of trading Kelly also referenced cornerback Kenny Moore II. Moore is a little younger and cheaper (27 years old and has capped $8.2 million), but he was another trade contender , which Ballard now wants to keep.
“They’re both great Colts and we’re glad they’re here,” Ballard said. “Right now they are Colts and for the foreseeable future I see them as Colts.”
The Colts can’t really afford to leave with more experienced cornerbacks. This offseason, Ballard traded Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys to create $9.9 million at Cap Space.
Cornerback colleague Isaiah Rodgers also left free agency and signed a contract with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Cornerback is one of the greatest needs in the entire Indianapolis roster. It might be the team’s greatest need outside of the quarterback. That may have played a role in Ballard’s decision to keep Moore.
But like Kelly, Moore needs to play better in 2023 to be part of the team’s long-term plans. Moore is slated to be a free agent next offseason.
He held off off-season last summer in hopes of a contract extension. The Colts didn’t budge and Moore had a disappointing 2022 campaign.
He needs to play like he did in 2020 and 2021 to get an extension next year.
https://heavy.com/sports/indianapolis-colts/ryan-kelly-chris-ballard-nfl-rumors/ Colts Rumors: Chris Ballard delivers a message to center Ryan Kelly