- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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When Jim Irsay ousted Bill Polian and decided to start with a fresh face leading the front office as well as the offensive huddle, he took a serious risk.
Brusque as Polian was and despite missing on many of his player choices late in his term, he was a proven, high-caliber personnel chief and team architect.
But in Ryan Grigson, Irsay appears to have hit a home run.
For his first year of player acquisitions, Grigson is the NFL executive of the year for The Sporting News. The Associated Press awards -- that are regarded as the league’s official awards and will be unveiled Saturday night -- don’t include an executive of the year category. This award is regarded as the official one.
Grigson's first draft choice was hardly a difficult one with Andrew Luck. But he did well to also draft tight end Dwayne Allen, receiver T.Y. Hilton, running back Vick Ballard and receiver LaVon Brazill.
While swallowing more than $30 million in dead cap money, Grigson found a very solid inside linebacker from the CFL in Jerrell Freeman, boldly traded a second-round pick to Miami for cornerback Vontae Davis and found guys along the way like cornerback Darius Butler and returner Deji Karim who made significant contributions to an 11-5 team that improbably made the playoffs.
I think Grigson is a worthy winner.
John Schneider of the Seahawks had what probably qualified as an even better year. Schneider narrowly won an ESPN ballot I put together after the season ended.
Only coaches and executives voted for executive of the year for The Sporting News.