The Colts face off with the Houston Texans on Sunday to wrap up the year.
Pagano, 57, has amassed a 52-43 record during his six seasons with the Colts, and Indianapolis sits at 3-12 entering Week 17. Indianapolis hired him before the 2012 season after he served as the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.
Pagano's imminent removal comes just a season after the Colts fired former general manager Ryan Grigson following the 2016 campaign. Mike Wells of ESPN.com pointed out Grigson was still under contract for three additional years, the same number as Pagano at the time. However, owner Jim Irsay said then Pagano was "our coach for 2017" even after firing Grigson, per Wells.
Pagano may have seen the writing on the wall after a lackluster showing in 2017 when he discussed the fact "you can't sit and worry about" your job status as an NFL coach with Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star in December.
"You know what you got into," Pagano said. "It's all I've known forever. The shelf life for these jobs is not long. So you embrace every single opportunity, every single day, every single game. To get to go to practice with these guys and grind and work and compete and go play games, it’s a blessing. You can't sit and worry about it."
The firing comes after a promising start to the coach's tenure with the Colts.
Indianapolis went 11-5 in 2012, although Pagano missed 12 games because of cancer treatment while Bruce Arians served as the interim coach. While the Colts lost in the AFC Wild Card Round that season, they went 11-5 in 2013 and 2014 as well, advancing to the AFC divisional round and AFC Championship Game, respectively.
However, quarterback Andrew Luck played just seven games in 2015, and the team finished 8-8. Indianapolis struggled to another 8-8 finish in 2016 with a defense that was a mere 22nd in the league in points allowed per game.
Considering Pagano was hired with a defensive background, the struggles on that side of the ball were concerning for Colts fans.
Even after missing the playoffs two straight years, Elliot Harrison of NFL.com ranked Pagano as the league's 15th-best head coach going into the 2017 season and pointed to Luck's health problems and diminishing job security as potential excuses for recent struggles.
The coach was given the opportunity to improve on lackluster finishes in 2015 and 2016 but didn't do enough to save his job even though Luck again had health issues when he missed the entire 2017 campaign after shoulder surgery.