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Colts remain noncommittal on quarterback Carson Wentz’s future in Indianapolis

Colts General Manager Chris Ballard. (WISH Photo/Charlie Clifford)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Colts General Manager Chris Ballard knew the question was coming on Tuesday afternoon as the 2022 NFL Combine got underway in Indianapolis.

Will Carson Wentz be back at quarterback for the Colts in 2022?

The answer, for now, hasn’t changed since Ballard last spoke in early January.

“We are still working through it,” Ballard said. “I know I am going to get a lot of questions about Carson right now. I don’t have a direct answer for you. We are working through it. Mr. Irsay, Frank [Reich], and I will sit down over the next ten days and figure out where it is going. Ultimately, we will do what is best for the Colts both in the short-term and in the long-term.”

Ballard and Wentz met Tuesday morning at the Colts Complex and continued their conversation that followed the Week 18 collapse versus Jacksonville.

On Tuesday, Ballard discussed handling “fair criticism” with Wentz and says he doesn’t believe the quarterback would be affected by the organization’s current noncommittal stance if he is brought back for the 2022 season.

“I visited with Carson (Wentz) today in my office for an hour. It was good. It was really good. I think learning to handle the criticism – I think what you always have to ask yourself, and always ask it with the criticism I get, which is, some of it’s deserved. Is there criticism fair? Is it fair? I’ll take it in if it’s fair. If it’s not fair, then what am I doing? I’m not wasting my headspace on that,” Ballard said. “If the criticism is fair, we have to be able to look internally and accept that and grow from it. Most if it is pretty fair. It’ll be interesting to see how he grows from this. I think he will.”

Ballard did not confirm that he, Irsay, and Reich concretely agree on what to do at quarterback as of Tuesday. He says that “good discussions” are ongoing and having differing opinions at this phase of the evaluation process isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The clock, however, is certainly ticking.

The start of free agency is around the corner, the top 2022 NFL Draft quarterback will be vetted this week in Indianapolis, and, most importantly, March 18 — when Wentz’s $28+ million contract becomes guaranteed — is approaching.

“We will not make a panic move just to make a panic move,” Ballard said. “You all can kick me in the face one hundred times. I am who I am, and I have a lot of confidence in myself and the people around me. Frank, our scouting department, these people are really good at their jobs. At the end of the day, we will figure it out.”

When asked about Irsay’s “All Chips In” mantra that the Colts owner posted in a message last month on social media, Ballard reiterated the passion he shares with Irsay.

“We see the game very similarly, how to build it. I love how he connects with our fans through social media. Understanding [that] we have an owner that really cares. He cares about this city. He cares about the fans. We want to make the city of Indianapolis proud. With not only how we play on the field, but we do in the community,” Ballard said.

Ballard continued: “I don’t know how to say it, but every year we want to win. Does it mean we are always right? No. But, I think we have a really good head coach in Frank, who has had to navigate some pretty tough situations at the quarterback position, and he has done tremendously…he is a special dude.”

In early January, Ballard shared the Colts’ philosophy at quarterback this offseason and beyond.

“That is the great thing about this league, there is always a solution,” Ballard said. “It is our job to problem solve and find the solution. It might not be the perfect solution. It might not be the long-term solution, but there is a solution every year.”

When asked how Wentz can improve, Ballard said he told the quarterback in their season-ending meeting in early January that he wants him to focus on “making the layups” in Reich’s offense. Wentz’s flair for regularly looking for the big play over the right play is a major concern for Ballard.

“Carson wants to win. He has a will to win. Sometimes when you carry that burden, where you think you have to make a big play all of the time. Let the team help you. Make the layups. Make the layups,” Ballard said.

Can the Colts coaches fix this issue?

It appears there is not a consensus on this subject, and, therefore, Wentz staying in Indianapolis for 2022 appears to still be a long shot.

Carson Wentz was not the only topic Ballard addressed on Tuesday.

Ballard was asked if the Colts will be more aggressive in free agency.

“Look, you want as many playmakers as you can get, okay? I guess that would be the best way to summarize it,” Ballard said. “I think that we’ve got three really good ones in Jonathan Taylor, who I think is elite, [Michael] Pittman, Jr., who I think is really good, and Nyheim Hines, who we’ve got to get involved more, and when he’s involved more, we usually do really well offensively. But we need to add some more weapons. But, like, at my core, you have to be able to block people, I mean, you have to. I think one of the number one things for the quarterback to feel comfortable is, he’s got to feel protected.”

When asked about the future free agent wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, Ballard said:

“As of a couple weeks ago, yes he wanted to play again. We will talk again. T.Y. can still play,” Ballard said. “Unfortunately, he got hurt for half the season, but T.Y. can still play. One, because he’s about as smart as any player I’ve ever been around. I mean, he just understands how to play the game. Even though his skillset might not quite be the same that it was three or four years ago, his instincts and his level of competence, in terms of understanding what’s happening, he knows how to play.”

Ballard also said that a new contract will get done for All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson, but did not indicate if that would come ahead of the start of the season.