One of the main cogs in the Chiefs’ front office will no longer be a part of the mix.
On Sunday evening, shortly before the Pro Bowl, the Indianapolis Colts announced they have hired Chris Ballard, the Chiefs’ director of football operations, to be their new general manager.
Ballard will replace Ryan Grigson, who was recently relieved of his duties after posting a 49-31 regular-season record the last five years.
“I’m thrilled for Chris and his family,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. “Beyond football, the Colts are getting a good man.
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“I’ve enjoyed our friendship over the last four years together. I wish him the best going forward.”
Since his arrival in Kansas City in 2013, along with coach Andy Reid and Dorsey, Ballard has helped the Chiefs put together a 43-21 regular-season record and reach the playoffs three times.
“Chris has a solid reputation throughout the National Football League as a heavyweight executive and our extensive discussion with him confirmed that reputation,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a statement. “He’s a savvy, organized and thorough evaluator, but beyond that he’s a terrific person our community will be proud of.”
Ballard has interviewed for several general manager jobs over the last three years, including Tennessee’s, Tampa Bay’s and Chicago’s. The San Francisco 49ers also wanted to interview Ballard earlier this month, but that never materialized.
He interviewed for the Colts’ opening this week, and it was reported over the weekend that he was due to receive a second interview — the first candidate to get that opportunity.
Ballard was among six candidates for the job, along with Scott Fitterer and Trent Kirchner of Seattle, Minnesota’s George Paton, Indianapolis’ Jimmy Raye III and Green Bay’s Eliot Wolf.
That second interview must have gone very well, since Ballard will now have an opportunity to run his own organization, and Dorsey will have to find a replacement. It remains to be seen what Dorsey will do, but Ballard did have two co-directors of player personnel under him in Mike Borgonzi and Brett Veach, so the Chiefs have the option of promoting one of them or maintaining the status quo.
No matter what happens, replacing Ballard – who had major say on the pro and college scouting side – will not be an easy feat.
Ballard. who joined the team as director of player personnel in 2013 after spending 11 seasons as a Southwest area scout and one as the director of pro scouting with the Bears, was promoted in May 2015 to director of football operations under Dorsey.
Since Dorsey’s arrival in 2013, the Chiefs have received contributions from all four of their first picks — Eric Fisher, Dee Ford, Marcus Peters and Chris Jones — and also unearthed a number of contributors in the middle and later rounds.
With the Chiefs, Ballard played a role in the selection of Peters in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Peters was dismissed from the University of Washington during his junior season after repeated clashes with the new coaching staff and was considered a draft risk by many. The Chiefs sent Ballard to Oakland, Calif., to spend a little time with Peters prior to the draft.
Peters recorded eight interceptions during a rookie season that ended with him being chosen the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year. He added six more interceptions this season.
Before the Chiefs’ divisional-round loss to Pittsburgh, team president Mark Donovan cited Ballard as an an example of a front-office executive “who’s a team player.”
“You look at our entire organization, you look at everybody across the board on the football side, ops side, coaching side, players, and I’d like to say business side as well — we’re all in this together,” Donovan said. “Chris is one of those guys.”