After weeks of speculation and radio silence out of Indianapolis, the Colts finally made a decision regarding Ryan Grigson’s future with the team.
The Colts have fired their general manager following a second consecutive season out of the postseason, owner Jim Irsay told reporters Saturday. Irsay also confirmed that coach Chuck Pagano will be the Colts‘ coach in 2017.
The move comes just one month after Irsay told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport that the franchise was not planning to make “wholesale” offseason changes.
On Saturday, the owner was singing a different tune.
“I will say that this timing was right for us,” Irsay explained. “We needed the time to go through the process. Internally we worked through some things even through this week that gave us some direction on our final decision and I’m very excited about the direction we’re going.”
Grigson was hired as general manager by the Colts in January 2012 and helped oversee a franchise revival centered upon the drafting of Andrew Luck and the hiring of Pagano following Peyton Manning’s departure. Indy posted a 49-31 record over five seasons as GM and went 8-8 for a second straight season in 2016.
The former general manager received a contract extension through 2019 last season despite missing the playoffs.
Grigson’s legacy in Indy will likely be tied to his inability to build the team through free agency and draft well, outside of Luck.
Under his leadership, the Colts used just four of their 14 draft picks in the first three rounds on defensive players. Indy bore the fruit of that labor this season, when its defense, ravaged by depth issues and poor secondary play, was ranked 30th in the league. Grigson will also be blamed for Indy’s inability to construct a sturdy offensive line around its most prized possession — Luck, who had to undergo surgery yet again this offseason.
With Grigson’s exit, there are now two general manager vacancies in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers are narrowing down their search for a new GM and coach. Vikings executive George Paton is considered a favorite for the general manager post, Rapoport reports, while Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is expected to become San Francisco’s new head coach once Atlanta’s season ends.
Aside from Paton, one name to watch during Indy’s upcoming GM search is already in the building. Irsay confirmed the team will interview Colts vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III for the vacancy. Raye earned an interview with the Niners two weeks ago and had worked alongside Grigson since 2013. He also interviewed to be the Bears‘ general manager in 2012. According to Rapoport, Raye is the clear favorite to replace Grigson. He has extensive scouting experience and Pagano’s staff “swears by him.”
One “longshot” candidate to disregard is Manning. Irsay quashed rumors Saturday that the former Colts quarterback was being interviewed for the GM position.
“There was never any serious negotiations or anything like that for (Manning) coming in to be general manager,” Irsay added. “I welcome the opportunity for him and I to talk about that possibility some day that he would play some role in our organization.”