ESPN BOTTOM LINE

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

ESPN: Colts fire Jim Caldwell

From: REDZONE.org

ESPN and the Associated Press report that the Indianapolis Colts have fired head coach Jim Caldwell after an NFL-worst 2-14 season. A 4PM news conference has been scheduled to announce the firing.

The Colts hired Ryan Grigson as their new general manager last week and the team said they would have a decision on Caldwell's future by the middle of this week.

Franchise quarterback Peyton Manning missed the entire season after having his latest neck surgery Sept. 8 -- a procedure that has clouded his future in Indianapolis. Without him, the Colts collapsed, missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade, winning the Andrew Luck sweepstakes with a 2-14 mark -- and ultimately cost Caldwell his job.

Owner Jim Irsay and Grigson must decide whether to pay the four-time league MVP a $28 million bonus in March, allow him to walk away as a free agent or redo the five-year, $90 million contract to make it more salary-cap friendly.

Though Manning has started throwing with teammates and players believe Manning is improving, Irsay must determine whether it's worth taking a significant cap hit to rebuild around a 35-year-old quarterback who has had neck surgery three times in less than 24 months. If he is healthy, a big if, Irsay has promised to bring back Manning and make another Super Bowl run.

Manning had good reasons to want Caldwell back. Aside from the franchise quarterback, Caldwell and offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen understand the Colts' offense better than anyone, and Caldwell helped Manning achieve his greatest successes. Before Caldwell became quarterbacks coach in 2002, Manning was an elite player with a losing record in the playoffs. With Caldwell, Manning won all four of his MVP awards, two AFC crowns and his only Super Bowl ring.

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