Colts name Chiefs’ Chris Ballard new general manager

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Chris Ballard

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indianapolis Colts’ search for a new general manager lasted eight days and added Chris Ballard to their front office.

After a week-long search that involved discussions with six candidates, owner Jim Irsay selected Ballard, the former director of football operations with the Kansas City Chiefs, to replace Ryan Grigson Sunday. Grigson was fired Jan. 21.

“Chris has a solid reputation throughout the National Football League as a heavyweight executive and our extensive discussions with him confirmed that reputation,’’ Irsay said in a press release. “He’s a savvy, organized and thorough talent evaluator, but beyond that, he’s a terrific person our community will be proud of.’’

Ballard, 47, brings 16 years of NFL experience to a franchise that has missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1997-98. That contributed to Irsay dismissing Grigson after five seasons.

It’s Ballard charge to work in tandem with coach Chuck Pagano and return the Colts to relevancy.

“I look forward to working with Chuck and his staff, the personnel staff and all the outstanding Colts employees,’’ Ballard said. “My wife Kristen and our children cannot wait to get to Indianapolis and become active members of the community.’’

Irsay decided to put his team’s personnel matters in Ballard’s hands after conducting a week-long search. He also interviewed Jimmy Raye III, the Colts’ vice president of football operations; George Paton, Minnesota’s assistant general manager; Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, co-directors of player personnel with the Seattle Seahawks; and Eliot Wolf, the director of football operations with the Green Bay Packers.

Irsay brought Ballard in for a follow-up interview Sunday, and quickly determined he was the right man for the job.

While firing Grigson, Irsay also said Pagano would return for the 2017 season, and then be evaluated by the new GM. And that’s the case.

“I am extremely excited about Chris coming on as our general manager,’’ Pagano said in a statement released on Colts.com. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and a ton of experience to the organization. I’m looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and going to work along side him.’’

Ballard’s NFL resume includes the last four years with the Chiefs. He served as their director of player personnel from 2013-14 before being promoted to director of football operations in 2015.

Prior to arriving in Kansas City, Ballard spent 12 seasons with the Chicago Bears.

During Ballard’s time in Kansas City, the Chiefs were one of the league’s more successful teams. They posted a 43-21 record and reached the playoffs in three of four seasons. The Chiefs earned the AFC’s No. 2 seed last season with a 12-4 record that won the AFC West title.

Ballard has had personnel input that has delivered several top-tier players to the Kansas City roster, including tight end Travis Kelce, cornerback Marcus Peters and wideout/kick returner Tyreek Hill, Pro Bowlers all.

Ballard’s primary task with the Colts is to bolster an aging defense that lacks difference-making talent.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51

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