While recently reading Chuck Pagano’s 2014 book, Sidelined, it became impossible to envision him coaching any team other than the Colts. But it’s now seems to be a distinct possibility.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Pagano and the Colts aren’t expected to reach agreement on a contract extension before the fourth and final year of the contract he signed in 2012.
Which means that Pagano will be a lame duck, a phenomenon that some teams try to avoid but multiple franchises have embraced in recent years. Last season, the Cowboys opted not to extend the contract of coach Jason Garrett before or during the season, signing him to a new contract after he technically was no longer employed by the team.
Garrett could have made life interesting for the Cowboys by expressing a desire to coach elsewhere. He didn’t. Pagano may feel differently, if Colts owner Jim Irsay opts to make Pagano wait until after the 2015 season to get a new contract. At some point, the team needs to demonstrate real loyalty to a coach who has helped the team become successful.
The problem may be that owner Jim Irsay wants more success before making a fresh commitment to Pagano. Ditto, possibly, for G.M. Ryan Grigson, who also is entering the final year of his contract, who traded a first-round draft pick for Trent Richardson, and who possibly won’t be getting an extension, either.
Irsay had no qualms about firing Jim Mora after the 2001 season, after a 6-10 season followed a pair of playoff appearances with Peyton Manning. Perhaps Irsay believes that, unless Grigson and Pagano can get more out of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, Irsay will find someone who will.
That’s his right, but it also will be Grigson’s and Pagano’s right to accept employment elsewhere, if they take the Colts to or close to the top of the NFL and attract interest elsewhere.