Grigson (right) and Pagano helped transform the Colts.
Ryan Grigson followed a front office legend in Indianapolis.
Bill Polian won Executive of the Year a record six times, twice with the Colts, and now the man who replaced him can hang a plaque above his mantle as well.
According to Clifton Brown of Sporting News, Grigson narrowly edged out John Elway to take home the most prestigious front-office award in football.
When I filled out my ballot for the PFW/PFWA award, I cast it for Grigson without hesitation.
While the decision to part ways with Manning rested primarily with owner Jim Irsay and the selection of Andrew Luck with the first pick in the draft was practically preordained, Grigson deserves credit for a bevy of other less high-profile decisions.
After taking Luck, Grigson had a spectacular first two days of the draft. His first priority was to lay a foundation for the future of the Indianapolis offense. He hit home runs with both of his third-round picks, including a savvy trade-up to select T.Y. Hilton.
Nearly 65 percent of the yards amassed by the Colts this year were gained by players not on the roster in 2011. Of course, if you count Luck's role in Reggie Wayne's receiving yards, that number skyrockets.
Grigson also moved quickly to purge old contracts from the Colts. He had the advantage of not inheriting bad deals. While the Colts had to absorb significant dead money, they were still able to purge all of it in in one season.
The mass exodus of longtime stars didn't extend to two key veterans. Wayne and Robert Mathis both received new deals and had strong seasons that were rewarded with Pro Bowl berths.
In just one season, Grigson maneuvered the Colts into one of the best cap positions in the NFL and began to restock the skill positions, all while his team went on an unexpected run to the playoffs.
The surprising 11-5 record likely won Grigson a lot of votes, but even if the Colts had finished 7-9 or 8-8, he would have scored my vote for the award.
While I personally disagree with several moves Grigson made, notably his ill-advised trade for Vontae Davis, there's no question he has moved the franchise to the cusp of contention. In a weak AFC, the Colts are poised to be a dominant force for years to come.
So as much for the future as the present, Grigson is the deserving winner for best executive in 2012.