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Louis Riddick explains the big problem for potential GMs with the Colts: Chuck Pagano’s status

Indianapolis Colts v Oakland Raiders Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Earlier today, we mentioned the fact that many view the Colts’ general manager job as a very appealing one because of Andrew Luck. The opportunity to come to a franchise with a young, incredibly talented franchise quarterback already in place would be an incredible draw to many people, as it means the hardest piece of the puzzle is already in place.

At the same time, however, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any legitimate questions about this job that could prove to be a roadblock for Jim Irsay in trying to get some of the big-name guys for the position. This morning on Mike and Mike, ESPN’s Louis Riddick outlined the major roadblock very thoroughly. Riddick, a former director of player personnel for both the Redskins and Eagles who recently interviewed for the 49ers’ GM opening, explained why having Chuck Pagano already in place at head coach will be a problem that the new GM will have to work through. Here’s what Riddick said:

“The new GM coming in, now even though in this situation he will be the one who ultimately will wield the power and Chuck Pagano will be out of there, unfortunately for this guy coming in, a lot of guys will come in with the mindset of, ‘how did that coach survive an awful situation like this and does that inherently put me in a disadvantage? Does he have the owner’s ear more so than me?’ So right away your relationship is starting off with you skeptically looking at the guy who’s already survived. On top of the fact that you have to learn his style, his philosophy, his view of players, his view of gameday and roster management, the draft, free agency. You’re right; it usually doesn’t lead to success. Usually what happens is that guy’s already had some preconceived ideas about, ‘this is where I really want to take this program, and in a year I’m going to take it there.’ And that usually means that that year that you’re holding over with him becomes a waste. That doesn’t mean it has to be, but those are a lot of the things, the preconceived notions, that you already have in your head.”

While I would disagree with the notion that Chuck Pagano has Jim Irsay’s favor enough that he’s able to survive these circumstances (since Irsay for the last several years has shown plenty of signs of doubt in Pagano), Riddick raises a great point. The very first question that a GM candidate should ask Jim Irsay is about the Pagano situation. Irsay said on Saturday that Pagano is the Colts’ coach for 2017, but how committed is Irsay to Pagano? How much say would the new GM have in that? And if Pagano really is staying, how much say would the new GM have in making the decision on Pagano in a year?

These are questions that absolutely must be asked, but there’s no doubt about it: having Chuck Pagano already in place at head coach will almost surely be the main obstacle that Irsay will face in his search for a new GM (assuming Irsay is indeed committed to Pagano, which isn’t guaranteed). Some of the top GM candidates likely won’t want to come into a situation where the coach is still around after years of a dysfunctional mess (even though the owner seemed to lay the blame for that on the previous GM), and they won’t want to come into a situation where they’ll be stuck with a head coach for a year.

Riddick went on to talk further about how there would need to be some well-defined roles with the team, such as who has control of the 53-man roster, etc.

“Those are the things that I’m talking about. There’s going to be questions that the new GM’s going to want answered because of the fact that Chuck is the holdover and you’re going to want to understand, ok, you’re going to want to ask ownership, ‘how do you really see this working. Do you really want this to be truly collaborative, because even though ideally you may want it to be, the new GM’s going to feel a little bit at a disadvantage here because he survived an awful situation. And a situation that obviously the owner didn’t think could survive any more. So yeah, you’re going to have to talk about a lot of those things, about ‘how are we going to decide who has final call on draft day, who has final call on the 53-man roster, who has final call on the gameday 46-man roster, who has final call on all transactions, free agency, the draft?’ Those are a lot of things that are going to have to be spelled out there on top of then turning to the guy and going, ‘ok, now that we got all that stuff lined up, let’s see if you and I can jibe here and build a football team.’”

After my first question to Irsay about Chuck Pagano’s status, my second question to Jim Irsay if I were a GM candidate would be about the status of Peyton Manning. The rumors are out there, and they’re not going away either. Jim Irsay wants Manning involved with the franchise once again in a role like president or head of football operations, and the best guess is that at some point Manning will wind up in that type of role. So if I were a GM candidate, I’d want to know the status of Manning and what his role would be. If he were to come in next year, would he get final say over the 53-man roster? Things like that must be asked, because it’s very possible that Manning could come in at some point in the near future as the team president of football operations, which would make him the GM’s boss.

So yes, the Colts’ job is very much desirable for potential general managers because of Andrew Luck, but as Riddick accurately points out, there are also some legitimate concerns - mainly because of Chuck Pagano’s current status.