Colts have no legal recourse against Josh McDaniels

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Some of you have asked whether the the decision by Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to jilt the Colts creates any type of legal liability. It does not.

Put simply, McDaniels has no responsibility to the Colts because he never signed a contract. From the NFL’s perspective, no deal is done until it’s actually done. Although the Colts contend in their statement announcing the resumption of their coaching search that McDaniels “agreed to terms,” he didn’t officially agree via the execution of a binding document.

If he had signed the contract, the Colts ultimately couldn’t have forced McDaniels to work for them. But they could have prevented him from working for the Patriots or anyone else.

Based upon promises possibly made by McDaniels during the recruitment and negotiation, the Colts could be able to craft legal arguments that don’t depend on a signed, written contract. But the Colts would be foolish to raise them, since doing so would make it clear that the Colts violated league rules preventing them from hiring McDaniels while he was still finishing up his season with the Patriots.

So there’s nothing the Colts can do about this, other than to realize that they never should have announced the hiring until they had McDaniels signed, sealed, and delivered to Indianapolis.

101 responses to “Colts have no legal recourse against Josh McDaniels

  1. Even though this post doesn’t have much to do with Belichick, I just want to post Belichick after finishing his tenure with the Browns at that time had the worst winning percentage of any Browns coach except for the interim coach the year before.

  2. That’s actually not correct. A contract, whether audible or signed, occurs when an offer is made, and it is accepted by the individual— so long as it is accepted and the original party notified before any type of change in the agreement occurs. The paperwork is merely a reflection of the agreement that has taken place.

    If there are witnesses to the audible contract, it should be legally recognized.

  3. Don’t underestimate Irsay’s foolishness lol. I could easily see him pursuing legal action like a dunce.

  4. Are we even 100% sure McDaniels was ever even interviewed in the first place? Maybe Irsay was on another bender and tweeted all this out… same way he said Luck would be ready for the start of last season.

  5. If McDaniels agreed and then backed out – which certainly appears to be the case – it was a scumbag move.

    Regardless, there should be no hiring of assistants from other teams until the season is over. It puts these guys in an untenable position of trying to coach their teams while interviewing with others which is absurd.

  6. It shows poor character Josh’s part, but there is more that’s going
    to come out about this I am sure.

  7. you used the same logic to criticize the Raiders for not following the Rooney Rule even though Gruden had not signed a contract…no deal is done until it is actually done…make up your mind

  8. I know this is of little consequence, but any weenie that pulled a stunt like that doesn’t deserve the job and I for one am glad for the Colts they won’t be forced to tolerate that pansy. And I have no dog in this fight whatsoever, I just know a weenie when I see one.

  9. Its not like the Colts would be making any big revelation if they acknowledge they dont follow league rules. So really nothing to lose there. Just admit it, get their pass from the league, then go after McDaniels and the Patriots.

  10. What possible benefit could be realized by pursuing any recourse? McDaniels has been exposed for the sickening fraud he his, and the Colts for being taken in a cheap con. The Colts interview process is obviously deeply flawed if sincerity and integrity are character flaws that are overlooked.

  11. Colts have no legal recourse, but other NFL organizations that McDaniels may someday interface with will consider this when it comes to evaluating his character. Then again, perhaps he plans to stay in NE for life.

  12. LOL – haters feeling Josh must have broken a rule by backing out of an offer made unofficially (because it was against the rules to make an actual offer), crying that it should now be honored even though no contract was signed because it would have been against the rules for him to sign it? If I was a Colts fan I’d be more worried that Josh may have demanded to see Luck’s medical file before signing. And given the Colts’ track record on facts I’d suspect they never had an absolute verbal promise anyway.

  13. …also, McDaniels found out today that Luck is likely getting more surgery and the Colts weren’t up front about it.

  14. Any way you slice it, this move on McDaniels’ part was completely unethical.

    I hope the Colts will be able to stick it to NE one day.

    Another reason to hate the Patriots…

  15. No skIn in the game here, but wow. On both sides.

    1. Whay is McDaniels doing? Does he ever want to be a HC? Because this is exactly how you ruin future opportunities.

    2. And what are the colts doing? Who makes a HC announcement before anything is signed? Facepalm.

    Something tells me Mr Kraft may be sticking it to the colts again.

  16. He almost did the same thing to the Niners last year. He is a POS. He is banking on BB retiring soon and taking over the Pats. I hope that goes not as planned and the Pats end up hiring someone else. Poetic Justice.

  17. Maybe if they just accuse the Patriots of deflating footballs again and this time the NFL can Frame up McDaniels for it. I see a lot of possibility there.

  18. Tell you what, as a Pats fan, I was in DIRE need of a laugh this week, and McDaniels delivered. Just the fact that it’s the Colts…that’s just sweeter than candied yams with extra syrup.

  19. This type of stuff happens all the time in the professional world. I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often in the NFL.

  20. Although the Colts contend in their statement announcing the resumption of their coaching search that McDaniels “agreed to terms,” he didn’t officially agree via the execution of a binding document.

    Still want to argue that the Raiders violated the Rooney rule after typing that?

  21. Daniels could of verbally told the Colts he would take the job after the big game.

    If that’s the case the Colts certainly have legal recourse and could receive relief in the courts.

  22. The Colts taking a page from the McCaskey’s playbook and pulling a Dave McGinnis. Bears ended up setting on Dick Jauron, hopefully the Colts make a better choice

  23. But the presumed sequence is [1] Patriots’ season ended, [2] Colts and McDaniels negotiated and came to an agreement (even verbal); [3] McDaniels reneged on that agreement before signing a contract.

    Based on that sequence of events, and based on laws designating verbal agreements as legally binding (of course with caveats), couldn’t McDaniels face legal challenges based on his verbal agreement with the Colts?

  24. Actually this article is not correct. A contact doesn’t have to be signed in order for it to be enforced by a court of law. There is such thing as “implied contracts” and if McDaniels agreed to terms then did not fulfill them he can be sued. The kicker is that the other party (the colts) must have acted upon that agreement and must have occurred some kind of damage as a result of McDaniels not holding up his end of the agreement. In this case, I believe the colts have a strong case against McDaniels, No signature needed.

  25. If memory serves, in Denver McDaniels drafted Tebow in the 1st round, went something like 10-20 overall, and even had his own spygate—but failed to beat the 49ers in London despite videotaping their practice. Why was Indy so high on this guy?

  26. They definitely got the better end of the deal here. McDonald’s is a garbage coach that can’t survive outside of Bill’s system. He’s proven that.

  27. Can’t blame Josh McDaniels for not taking the Indy job. But why would the Colts announce him as their coach without a contract signed ? Truly a dumpster fire going on in Indy. Poor Andrew Luck he will spend at least another year being sacrificed to NFL defenses everywhere.

  28. Maybe good friend Roger can once again intervene on behalf of the Colts and dock the Patriots some draft picks or suspend Brady for this injustice. There’s gotta be something Roger can do.

  29. Defakegate Karma is very fun! It’s also nice to be able to shift focus from difficult zsuper Bowl loss and Butler benching. Since the night Ryan Grigson followed Harbaugh’s tip to railroad TB12 and the Pats:

    Indy -21-27 with no post-season appearances, 1Participatiin banner. No coach

    Baltimore-22-26 with no post-season appearances and an “elite QB”.

    Patriots- 39-9 regular season, 3 AFC titles and 2 World Championships.

    I also heard that Eric Mancini -Spygate snitch has not fared so well in coaching, since his squealing.

  30. It shows poor character Josh’s part, but there is more that’s going
    to come out about this I am sure.

  31. Iknowitall says:
    February 7, 2018 at 6:06 am
    there is a legal term called “Verbal agreement”

    Which is why there is a thing called a binding contract that is signed. He said she said doesn’t usually work out in favor of those who said they said.

  32. Tell you what, as a Pats fan, I was in DIRE need of a laugh this week, and McDaniels delivered. Just the fact that it’s the Colts…that’s just sweeter than candied yams with extra syrup.

  33. So relieved we didn’t wind up with this guy. I hated that he was ever a target for us. The Belichick coaching tree is a sequoia with twigs for branches. All the value is with him, which is why his assistants fail miserably once they get their own head coaching gigs.

  34. There is such a thing as an oral contract. Of course it is unlikely that the Colts will go through a lengthy legal process trying to recover damages for the breach of the oral contract. It is unlikely that they can get an award in 7 figures. Just the annual salary of one player on their 53 men roster is going to cost them more than they can ever hope to win in court.

  35. See thats why the Raiders DID in fact respect the Rooney rule. Its not done until ink meets paper.

    Had Gruden declined after all the interviews already done are a good starting point. Same here for the Colts.

  36. I think McDaniels just signed his coaching death warrant in the NFL, If in a couple of years Belichick retires and Brady along with him, if McDaniels doesn’t win and gets fired he will never coach again in the National Football League and to boot I have a hard time thinking that any other teams will deal with New England or Kraft after pulling this stunt….just IMO

  37. hawksnorth says: “I think McDaniels just signed his coaching death warrant in the NFL, If in a couple of years Belichick retires and Brady along with him, if McDaniels doesn’t win and gets fired he will never coach again in the National Football League”
    —————-

    I’m pretty sure if he fails again as the Patriots head coach (after BB retires), he won’t get a third chance anyways. However, if he wins a SB, you can bet 5-7 teams will come knocking on his door regardless of this Colts thing.

  38. ismokecrack says:
    February 6, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    I would blacklist him from the franchise forever.
    _________________________________________________

    LOL. Pretty sure the whole league would have to do that to qualify as blacklisting someone.

  39. If ESPN’s report of Andrew Luck needing another surgery, then this makes sense. Most new HC gets only 2-3 years to turn the ship around, otherwise they’ll get fired. And this would be his last shot.

    McDaniels has coached QB Brissett, so he knows his upside probably isn’t that high.

  40. sl2w says:
    February 7, 2018 at 7:40 am

    Dear Jim:
    Feeling a Bit “Deflated?”
    ____________________________
    You’re probably right. I could see Kraft and Bill getting Josh to do this to get back at them for deflategate. They really are that petty. Josh was a pawn, and when he grows up, he’ll regret doing that to his career.

  41. r8dernation says:

    February 6, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    Colts just dodged a huge bullet

    _______________________

    No, McDaniels dodged the bullet. The Colts are a mess. He’s staying where he and his family are comfortable. Admittedly, he went about it the wrong way, but in the end, he made the right choice.

  42. Centered00 says:
    February 6, 2018 at 10:44 pm
    Any way you slice it, this move on McDaniels’ part was completely unethical.

    I hope the Colts will be able to stick it to NE one day.

    Another reason to hate the Patriots…

    —————————
    I think the Patriots came into this as the ones who had been stuck by the Colts (not counting merciless beatings on the field of course) so this would just set them back to even.

  43. broncosroe says:
    February 7, 2018 at 1:24 am
    Actually this article is not correct. A contact doesn’t have to be signed in order for it to be enforced by a court of law. There is such thing as “implied contracts” and if McDaniels agreed to terms then did not fulfill them he can be sued. The kicker is that the other party (the colts) must have acted upon that agreement and must have occurred some kind of damage as a result of McDaniels not holding up his end of the agreement. In this case, I believe the colts have a strong case against McDaniels, No signature needed.

    ————————-
    The catch for the Colts in that is that making actual agreements at that time violates league tampering rules. We know that gets violated all the time with the wink wink stuff, but that gets handled by nobody actually acknowledging it. In this case the Colts would have to acknowledge the agreement to claim it was broken, but then that sets them up for tampering.

    They are better off just moving on. Everyone knows darn well what happened here without them having to say it. Those ‘wink wink’ things are neccesary for actually getting the best business done and McDaniels just ripped his own ability to do that in the future. This will present a problem for him at some point or other. The Colts should just consider that their revenge and otherwise leave it alone.

  44. “A contract doesn’t have to be signed in order for it to be enforced by a court of law. ”

    No, but this was an agreement to sign a contract, not an employment contract itself. There was never any belief that the contract was formalized orally. It was also probably longer than one year, which must be in writing. So, no it is not enforceable at all.

  45. You seem to miss the point, that there was no contract to be allowed in place until after the superbowl. Anything agreed to prior to the superbowl is meaningless

    Andrew cronkright says:
    February 6, 2018 at 9:45 pm
    That’s actually not correct. A contract, whether audible or signed, occurs when an offer is made, and it is accepted by the individual— so long as it is accepted and the original party notified before any type of change in the agreement occurs. The paperwork is merely a reflection of the agreement that has taken place.

    If there are witnesses to the audible contract, it should be legally recognized.

  46. Wellman says:
    February 7, 2018 at 9:13 am

    The catch for the Colts in that is that making actual agreements at that time violates league tampering rules. We know that gets violated all the time with the wink wink stuff, but that gets handled by nobody actually acknowledging it. In this case the Colts would have to acknowledge the agreement to claim it was broken, but then that sets them up for tampering.

    They are better off just moving on. Everyone knows darn well what happened here without them having to say it. Those ‘wink wink’ things are neccesary for actually getting the best business done and McDaniels just ripped his own ability to do that in the future. This will present a problem for him at some point or other. The Colts should just consider that their revenge and otherwise leave it alone.

    ————-
    The court of law does not care about NFL policies, they are there to enforce USA law and implied contract is a USA law.

  47. Going from the best owner in the NFL to the far-and-away worst owner in the NFL; I can’t fault McDaniels too much. But he deserves the flack he’s gonna get.
    He has 4 young kids and word is they (and wife) weren’t in any way thrilled about this move. And what if, as being rumored, Luck needs more surgery on his shoulder?
    At that point you couldn’t fault McDaniels for bailing.
    Bottom line; Indy is a Mickey Mouse, chump franchise. And working for a buffoon like Irsay? No thanks….

  48. “Based upon promises possibly made by McDaniels during the recruitment and negotiation, the Colts could be able to craft legal arguments that don’t depend on a signed, written contract. But the Colts would be foolish to raise them, since doing so would make it clear that the Colts violated league rules preventing them from hiring McDaniels while he was still finishing up his season with the Patriots.”
    ——————————————————————————————

    So since this is repeatedly shown to be an organization that does foolish things you’re saying this is probably what the Colts are going to do?

  49. The paranoid in me thinks Kraft and Belichick (we all know he has no sense of ethics as he did the same to the Jets and the Pats have been repeatedly fined for cheating) decided to get even with the Colts: preferred head coaches already hired elsewhere, new Colts assistants screwed, old assistants gone, etc. All fun and games in New England.

  50. I won’t be the least bit surprised if the league steps in and awards the Colts some of the Patriots’ draft picks.

    Shortly afterward by some of the Patriots’ fans throwing a hissy fit over it.

    At a minimum there should be an investigation over it. If there was a verbal agreement between the Colts and McDaniels, then significant compensation should be awarded to the Colts.

  51. There are reports that his family didn’t want to move. The guy hadn’t signed a contract yet, this happens in the non-sports world all the time. The high horse crowd needs to relax a little. McDaniels had every right to find his best situation. The Colts have every right to be pissed off, but to paint McDaniels as a villain is dumb.

  52. turtlehut says:

    February 7, 2018 at 11:00 am

    The paranoid in me thinks Kraft and Belichick (we all know he has no sense of ethics as he did the same to the Jets and the Pats have been repeatedly fined for cheating) decided to get even with the Colts: preferred head coaches already hired elsewhere, new Colts assistants screwed, old assistants gone, etc. All fun and games in New England.

    ===============

    The Jets? The Jets screwed over the Patriots with Parcells and Curtis Martin and then screwed over Belichick when they didn’t let him know other teams were interested in him before he was promoted to the head Jets job.

  53. feckyerlife says:

    February 7, 2018 at 9:39 am

    You seem to miss the point, that there was no contract to be allowed in place until after the superbowl. Anything agreed to prior to the superbowl is meaningless

    Andrew cronkright says:
    February 6, 2018 at 9:45 pm
    That’s actually not correct. A contract, whether audible or signed, occurs when an offer is made, and it is accepted by the individual— so long as it is accepted and the original party notified before any type of change in the agreement occurs. The paperwork is merely a reflection of the agreement that has taken place.

    If there are witnesses to the audible contract, it should be legally recognized.

    =============================
    Contracts like the one McDaniels was going to sign are extremely intricate. There is no way McDaniels previously agreed to everything that was going to be in the contract he was going to sign. That’s why they have attorneys and agents review it beforehand. And why would the Colts want a coach who doesn’t want to be there?

  54. patriotmaleorgy says:
    February 6, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Even though this post doesn’t have much to do with Belichick, I just want to post Belichick after finishing his tenure with the Browns at that time had the worst winning percentage of any Browns coach except for the interim coach the year before.
    ——————-

    Thanks for the history lesson. Now, what was your point?

  55. Sage Rosenfels, former NFL QB had an interesting take:

    “I wonder how many times in their franchise’s history the Colts have released a player who is under contract and who they had promised would make the team. Then didn’t. Then he had to uproot his family. Welcome to the life of one of your players @Colts.”

  56. Andrew cronkright says:
    February 6, 2018 at 9:45 pm
    That’s actually not correct. A contract, whether audible or signed, occurs when an offer is made, and it is accepted by the individual— so long as it is accepted and the original party notified before any type of change in the agreement occurs. The paperwork is merely a reflection of the agreement that has taken place.

    If there are witnesses to the audible contract, it should be legally recognized.

    As a lawyer, I can tell you that you’re the worst lawyer I’ve ever seen in my life…don’t quit your day job…

  57. Frankly, a lawsuit is pointless. We should send the Pats a 4th rounder as a thank you for this.

    And, besides, the argument to make isn’t whether there was a verbal agreement or pen on paper. It’s whether or not an implied contract existed, which is the argument such a case would revolve around. Given that McDaniels hired assistants and was recruiting more of them as of the morning he changed his mind, it’s not a completely baseless case to make. Just pointless in the grand scheme of things. We should be glad we dodged the bullet and move on.

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