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Ryan Grigson edges out John Elway for exec award

Charting a smooth course from the Peyton Manning era to the Andrew Luck era apparently trumps out-recruiting a third of the NFL to land the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback in the most high-profile free-agency chase since Reggie White landed in Green Bay.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson edged Denver Broncos VP of football operations John Elway by one vote to take home the NFL's executive of the year award in a Sporting News poll of league execs. Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider finished third, followed by Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen and Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith.

While Schneider deserves plenty of credit for a trio of high-impact draft picks in the first three rounds, it's fitting that the race between Elway and Grigson was so tight at the top.

The Manning coup was a masterstroke by Elway, simultaneously allowing him to shed Tim Tebow at the peak of his Denver popularity after delivering a playoff upset over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Although Grigson "lucked" into a franchise quarterback, his other contributions can't be overlooked in reversing the Colts from a 2-14 laughing stock to an 11-5 playoff team. Bruce Arians' offense boasted five rookies as major contributors while Canadian Football League refugee Jerrell Freeman anchored the defense, breaking the franchise's unofficial record in tackles.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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