Chris Ballard echoes Mike Tomlin; NFL teams should want volunteers, not hostages

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A trend has emerged in the NFL, with teams abandoning the “play for us or play for no one” attitude toward unhappy players and facilitating their departures for a team they’d rather play. The Colts benefited from that approach in March, through the ability to trade for quarterback Matt Ryan.

Earlier this week, I asked Colts GM Chris Ballard about the willingness of teams to move from unhappy players. Ballard borrowed a line from Pittsburgh’s coach, who made it clear repeatedly that he prefers volunteers to hostages.

“Mike Tomlin says it’s best,” Ballard explained. “I always say, ‘You want volunteers.’ You want people that want to be here. So when you get a player who doesn’t want to be in your organization anymore, you can play hardball – which sometimes we all do – but you want volunteers. You want people who want to be here.

“Like the one good thing about the NFL and just football in general, like a team still wins. Team still wins. Every player’s important. But them coming together and playing for each other, that still wins. And this is the great thing about our game. And I think what it does give it such a great parity in our league. The teams that figure it out, come together, they are usually the teams that end up winning. “

That ‘s the key. Having unhappy players in the building disrupts the very delicate yet critical balance that is required to play consistent winning football.

“It’s hard to win one game,” Ballard said. “Sometimes I think people forget that. Like just winning one game on Sunday is hard. And then to win enough to get into the playoffs and make a real push is very difficult. So everybody’s gotta be paddling in the same direction and working together to get that done. And it doesn’t take much to get off the boat if you don’t have that happening in your building. “

This is an important point. And it’s something the Browns need to consider as they figure out the future with Baker Mayfield. He doesn’t want to be on the team. The Browns don’t want him on the team. The best approach is to come up with a way to let him move on, because the Browns need him at this point.

They have enough distractions without him on the team. Forcing him to stick around when he doesn’t want to be there isn’t many things better. It will only make things worse.

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