It's the already paid signing bonus that was the issue. If you want a player to give money back, I don't think you should be able to keep their rights into perpetuity.
But the pending bonus was a different story, and I don't know what the rules were on that one. Uncharted territory, as far as I know.
I would 100% give a second round for Darnold, hell we have fleeced the Jets enough and possibly trading Brissett along with it. I still think he has every single tool to be a great QB in this league, his issue is #1 whose around him talent wise and #2 who is coaching him. It gets him out of a bad situation and keeps us set up to be contenders moving forward. He gets the time to learn our offense and team and then next year we roll with Darnold and Eason. I honestly see it as an absolute win for every party involved besides Brissett but even then he would only be there for a year.
I think its a move we need to make because otherwise we are in QB purgatory for the next several years. We have too good of a defense and to much talent to sit idly by without having an above average QB.
We aren't some bad team, he would sign here, and the price was a 3rd and conditional 5th that could be a 4th. Just offer a 3rd and 4th next year and you get him. Ballard knew this 100%. I don't give him the benefit of the doubt to draft pass-rushers. In fact, quite the opposite. He has proven he can't draft them with Lewis, Banogu, and Turay.
I think a rules change is needed lol...
IMO, you shouldn't have to pay any unrealized contract $ to retain rights, and you shouldn't lose the rights to any player retiring mid contract. The money should have returned, and if he ever decides to come back, the Colts should have first option to reinstate the contract.
If about $20 plus mil. a year comes off the QB position with JB (even if we bring back Rivers), we should be able to make it work. If we felt it was a fit, we would make it work. It is just that Ballard still feels this roster needs more talent added on the offensive side and other areas that only draft picks can provide unless you overpay in free agency. That is my educated guess.