INDIANAPOLIS — Chris Ballard telegraphed this move like any other.
The transparent Indianapolis Colts general manager attempted to prepare fans during his media availability following last month’s NFL Draft.
Character has been a primary building block in the foundation Ballard has laid since taking over as franchise architect in 2017. From that perspective, the signing of troubled quarterback Chad Kelly on Monday could be viewed as a surprise.
But Ballard laid out the rationale weeks earlier.
“I don’t want to sit here and say we will never take a shot because I know me well enough, and there will come a point when we do,” the GM explained at the conclusion of the draft, “but it’s going to be one that we’ve researched, we feel comfortable that we can handle it and there is a humbleness inside of him that he has been remorseful and he wants to fit into our locker room.”
Ballard wasn’t speaking directly about Kelly, but rumors of his possible addition already had begun swirling.
Kelly was one of three quarterbacks who took part in the Colts’ rookie mini-camp two weeks ago, and he was the most consistent of the trio during the practices open to media.
He also has a history with Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich. Kelly’s uncle, Jim, quarterbacked the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s with Reich as his backup. The two men maintain an extremely close friendship.
That might give Reich a little more insight for this situation than many NFL evaluators.
On the field, Kelly’s resume is intriguing. He threw for 10,763 yards with 97 touchdowns and 29 interceptions during a college career that made stops at Clemson, East Mississippi Junior College and Ole Miss. He was selected with the final pick in the 2017 draft by the Denver Broncos and appeared in just one regular-season game without attempting a pass during a year-and-a-half with the franchise.
The Broncos released him last October, following an alcohol-related arrest after a party hosted by teammate Von Miller.
The Colts represent a second-chance for a player nicknamed “Swag” Kelly during his playing days at Ole Miss. Kelly is a dual-threat signal-caller who has traits that could work in Reich’s RPO-heavy scheme.
He’s likely to compete with Phillip Walker for the third quarterback role behind Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett. Aside from a few periods between 2015-17 while Luck was battling a right shoulder injury, Indianapolis has not carried more than two quarterbacks on the active roster.
If he makes the team, Kelly could be subject to a suspension from the league office because of the arrest last year.
Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and wide receiver Parris Campbell became the most recent draft picks to sign their rookie contracts Monday.
Their deals mean nine of the 10 players drafted last month officially are in the fold. Only third-round linebacker Bobby Okereke -- whose class at Stanford will not graduate until June 16 -- remains unsigned.