For prospective GMs, there are three intriguing openings available right now in Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago. The Colts have the No. 1 pick and a looming decision on Peyton Manning. The Rams have the No. 2 pick and young quarterback Sam Bradford. The Bears were on track for the playoffs before injuries derailed them. Which job is more desirable?
It's hard to say until you know who the coach is, or if the coach will be hired before the GM.
See the Oakland situation -- where coach Hue Jackson is already in place and making a public plea to retain personnel control -- as an example of why some GMs are apprehensive of situations like that.
St. Louis could very well hire the coach first, especially if they can land Jeff Fisher. Lovie Smith just got an extension and isn't going anywhere, at least this offseason.
If San Diego were to open up, that might be the most attractive GM job to many candidates but the tradition and potential of the Bears will make that a coveted spot by many executives.
Assuming the new Colts general manager will have the ability to hire his own head coach (sorry, Jim Caldwell), it's difficult to argue against either one of two jobs: Indianapolis and St. Louis. As obvious as it might be, there's no better position for a general manager to be in than to take over a struggling team with young franchise quarterbacks under center. In Chicago, the expectations are already extremely high. And while that's no reason to shy away from such a role, it should certainly be factored into a decision given the short leash placed on any NFL executive or coach put in these positions.
All three are deservedly coveted positions, but Indianapolis and St. Louis are primed for smooth and successful takeovers.
The No. 1 pick and a high pick in each round has to whet the appetite, but I would have to say the Rams' gig is more tempting. First, you have the No. 2 pick and high picks in each round. There also is a young quarterback already in place.
You know what you have in Sam Bradford. In Indy, you could have Peyton Manning for a year or two then potentially Andrew Luck, which seems desirable, but with Manning's age and health, there's still a bit of the unknown. There's also more of a deconstruction and rebuilding plan with the Colts.
The Rams' roster is younger and when healthy, actually more talented. The only real drawback to the St. Louis job is the spector of relocation to Los Angeles. Anyone taking over there would account for that contingency upon hiring, though.
The Colts job does come with one drawback: Telling Peyton Manning to take his wares elsewhere. Although, I think I would enjoy that, personally. The Colts job does have its perks because you do have a chance to draft a franchise quarterback and, let's be honest, you are going to need to rebuild seemingly every position. That has to be a great selling point for the ultimate tinkerers.
That said, I'd be all over the St. Louis job. This was a team on the rise, but got knocked off the rails by a tough schedule and injuries to quarterback Sam Bradford (who I still believe in). I'd draft the best receiver available and be competitive in the NFC West next season.
Not to be overlooked, if you took the St. Louis job, you'd be looking for a house in Manhattan Beach, Calif., in a few years when the team moves, making it an even sweeter deal.
The Rams job is very interesting. They have a young QB in place and the second pick should be a great spot to move down from and acquire more picks. The Colts have a serious question about Peyton Manning and a $28 million option bonus due March 8. There are more than 20 players on the Colts roster who have some form of expiring contracts, while the Rams are in good shape. The Colts are projected to have about $6.8 million of salary cap space to begin the 2012 year while the Rams have close to $23 million in space.