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Colts cutting ties with the mistakes holding them back

New Colts general manager Chris Ballard has already completely rebuilt the Indianapolis defense.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Grigson started his tenure as the Indianapolis Colts general manager by drafting Andrew Luck with the first pick of the 2012 NFL draft. It was a great start followed by a whole bunch of bad moves. Ultimately, Luck’s play wasn’t enough to keep Grigson’s job, and he was fired by the team in January after five seasons.

With Chris Ballard taking over the reins for the Colts, the team’s top priority has seemingly been clearing the roster of Grigson’s biggest mistakes — particularly, on the defensive side of the ball.

A year ago, Indianapolis was mostly quiet in free agency. It allowed players like Jerrell Freeman and Coby Fleener to sign elsewhere, and Dwayne Allen was re-signed to a four-year, $29.4 million deal. The team’s sole splash on the open market was snagging former Saints and Chargers cornerback Patrick Robinson on a three-year, $13.5 million deal.

In a matter of a few days, Ballard undid both of those moves. The Colts traded Allen to the New England Patriots for peanuts and cut Robinson after only one season.

The Colts also cut ties with 2014 free agent addition D’Qwell Jackson and made no effort to keep other former Grigson free agent additions Mike Adams, Trent Cole, and Erik Walden.

Chris Ballard is making his mark already

Biggest salary cap hits in 2016 Cap hit Current
Biggest salary cap hits in 2016 Cap hit Current
Andrew Luck $18.4 million Under contract
T.Y. Hilton $11 million Under contract
Anthony Castonzo $9.8 million Under contract
Dwayne Allen $8.906 million Traded
Vontae Davis $8.375 million Under contract
Trent Cole $5.094 million Free agent
Robert Mathis $5 million Retired
D'Qwell Jackson $4.456 million Released
Erik Walden $4.25 million Free agent
Kendall Langford $4.25 million Under contract
Frank Gore $4 million Under contract
Patrick Robinson $4 million Released

Less than two months after Ballard took over, the Colts defense already looks much different. Indianapolis signed Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, and Barkevious Mingo in the first days of free agency and added Sean Spence and Al Woods soon after.

Grigson’s fingerprints on the roster are now mostly on the offensive side of the ball where almost the entire starting unit is made up of draft selections made by the former general manager.

But Grigson’s biggest free agency splashes were typically on the defensive side of the ball, and Ballard has made undoing those splashes a top priority in his first weeks on the job.