So apparently the Raiders act as fast on hiring a GM as they do using draft picks on guys that run like the Road Runner. With McKenzie heading out west to THE RRRAYDAS, and DeCasto deciding to wait until Ozzie Newsome retires in Baltimore to take over as GM there (which seems like the obvious rationale) we're down two GM candidates but only have two teams left to battle during the tumultous (and hopefully not lengthy) General Manager search. So, let's take an inside look at what the Bears have to offer a new GM versus the Colts and Rams. Jumpin' Jimmy Christmas!
Quick thought before we get into it - I think if Ron Wolf (former Packers' GM and McKenzie's old boss) wasn't involved in the Raiders' GM search McKenzie doesn't go there. What's the attractiveness other than California; Oakland traded away all but their fifth and sixth round picks in the upcoming draft (and next year's second rounder), have a power-hungry coach (that apparently could be on a shorter leash than Lovie), and unachieved in a year where they could/should have won the division. I don't get it, but, whatever.
We're going to hit some primary points of contention that an incoming general manager may scrutinize when comparing job opportunities. We're going to assume a few things, however, for simplicities sake: location, salary, and power are the same for all three positions. I'm sure in reality this is not the case, but frankly unless I bugged everyone associated with the decision-making process of each team, we wouldn't know the details until after the hiring, if ever.
Bears: Yes, they can be viewed as stingy or old-fashioned, but the McCaskey's are willing to let a GM with a questionable draft record and middling success rate stay on the job for eleven years. Also, Gentleman George has been on the job less than a year and already is throwing out the garbage, updating the drapes, and inspecting the foundation.
Colts: Jim Irsay surprised a lot of people by firing the man (and his son) who's first act was drafting Peyton Manning, but Irsay is viewed as an owner willing to get involved in his team if necessary. However, his twitter account can sometimes be entertaining, confusing, or too revealing (team-wise, not you know, in other ways). After having the Polians around for so long, you don't know if Irsay is going to increase his say within the Colts' organization and be more of a puppet-master or not.
Rams: Stan Kroenke has only been the owner of the Rams for about a year, so its hard to get any kind of read on him, but his association Kroenke Sports Enterprise (he technically runs five sports franchises and is the primary shareholder of foosball team Arsenal) keeps him busy, likely meaning that he's going to be hands-off with the GM and run the Rams like a good businessman should (i.e. not like Jerry Jones). Oh, and he and George McCaskey totally need to have a mustache contest.
Head Coach Position
Bears: Lovie Smith has two years left from his last contract extension, meaning that 2012 for Lovie is going to probably be "playoffs (or more)" or else. An incoming GM doesn't necessarily want to be saddled with an incumbent Head Coach, but Lovie is on more of a tryout basis; if next year's great, keep him, if not (or you want him gone anyway) you can him.
Colts: Irsay hasn't made a decision yet on Jim Caldwell, which is surprising since at 2-14 you'd think he would want a complete break. But, commonsense says Irsay is going to hire a GM and then they'll make a decision on Caldwell's future.
Rams: Steve Spaghetti is gone, meaning this is the only GM job that offers you the immediate opportunity to hire your own Head Coach, which is an attractive option.
Bears: Jay Cutler's contract is going to have to be addressed soon, but out of the three teams, Chicago has the clearest QB scenario (not saying best, but easiest).
Colts: Irsay and the new GM have a mammoth decision to make regarding some bum who didn't even play last year and some kid named Luck. This has a high risk, high reward quality that a new GM could like, but Irsay could be the one dictating how this all plays out.
Rams: Sam Bradford was the last number one pick to get a huge guaranteed contract ($50 million!), and went from a promising rookie year to a injury-riddled and mediocre sophomore campaign. Its doubtful that the Rams would draft a new QB, but if Bradford continues to underwhelm a GM may be left with a hole at the most important position in sports.
Bears: The last two years have shown what our immediate future is: a chance at great success with some luck and roster tweaking. A GM can look at this team and what it has done the last two years, build up the roster a bit, then make your mark on the roster to try and sustain a high level of success. Out of the three options, again, the Bears can offer the most immediate success rate.
Colts: Well, after seeing what happens when Manning doesn't play, I'm not sure anyone is looking forward to breaking down this team. After figuring out what to do with the quarterback position, then you have to address Reggie Wayne's free agency, the aging stars on defense Mathis and Freeney, another lackluster year at running back, and a sieving O-Line... but hey, all that can't be that hard, right?
Rams: This team was destroyed by injuries; not in the "one shot, one kill" to Manning's neck that railroaded the Colts, but injuries to quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line, and cornerback doomed any chance of success for this time. That being said, this team has talent but not enough yet, which is in part why a new GM/Coach will be brought in. Trying to flesh out a full roster will be tough, though, since the most talented guys they have are still not 100% proven commodities - Bradford's status next year will in part be dictated by other roster improvements offensively, while the defense has Long, Laurinaitis, and Quentin Mikell (yes, he had that good of a year) and little else going for it.
All in all, being the homer that I am, I say the Bears have the most attractive GM opening in the league. The Colts have THE question of the offseason at quarterback (not to mention who actually will be making that decision) while the Rams haven't had the health or talent to get anywhere near the playoffs under Sam Bradford. Let's hope we can make a decision for the best candidate, not the one that's still left.