Last month, a report emerged that the Colts and coach Chuck Pagano aren’t expected to strike a new deal before the final year of his contract expires. Owner Jim Irsay has remained silent, fueling speculation that Pagano could be on the outs if the team doesn’t get to the Super Bowl.
Irsay has finally addressed the situation, opting to downplay the situation.
“These things are ongoing a lot of times behind the scenes,” Irsay said Friday night at a charity gala to support Pagano’s efforts to raise funds to fight cancer, via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. “We’re working on contracts, whether it’s management, coaches, players. We had discussions and it doesn’t mean that they won’t continue. It’s not a Super Bowl-or-bust season or anything like that.”
Irsay’s comments leave the door open for a new deal before the season begins.
“Really, it’s only been two years, kind of, that he’s been coaching,” Irsay said, referring to the fact that Pagano missed most of his first year with the team while fighting cancer. “So, he’s done a very good job and nothing rules out that we couldn’t have an extension done before the season. And if not, we can still, I’m sure, work things out.”
Irsay said talks already have occurred regarding a new contract. And Irsay seemed to blame the lack of a new contract on Pagano’s agent.
“There were some efforts to talk about it,” Irsay said. “We just didn’t get there. Sometimes that happens. If you go back to the old days, there were no agents involved, either. Now General Managers and coaches sometimes have agents. In fact, oftentimes. . . . We’re real positive about Chuck Pagano and the things that he’s done. It’s not a sign of anything extremely negative. We just haven’t gotten anything done in terms of a long-term contract.”
Irsay’s words suggest that the absence of a contract doesn’t result from his reluctance to commit to Pagano, but from Pagano’s reluctance to commit to the terms the team has offered. Which could set the stage not for Irsay to fire Pagano but for Pagano to walk away.
If he does, the vacancy in Indianapolis, with the presence of quarterback Andrew Luck, would become the most attractive job in the 2016 hiring cycle.