Deal puts president in 'upper echelon'

Originally Published: October 21, 2003
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

The Indianapolis Colts have reached an agreement with team president Bill Polian on a five-year extension that will keep the longtime NFL executive under contract through the 2009 draft.

The agreement was confirmed by league officials for ESPN.com, and the team later said that he had signed the deal.

Both sides had been talking extension for months. Polian, 60, has been working under a contract that was to expire following the 2004 draft. The Colts now are assured of long-term continuity in their management team, with coach Tony Dungy under contract through the '06 season. His five-year deal, signed in 2002, is worth about $2.6 million per season.

Polian's extension also ends speculation that he might leave the franchise.

"I believe strongly in continuity," owner Jim Irsay said. "Since the late '90s, we have been a very competitive team, a playoff team, and clearly Bill has been a big part of that. We want to keep that going. We want to go farther and win a championship, and I believe that we will."

Irsay had reiterated several times in recent months that an extension for Polian, who possesses far-reaching clout in the organization, would eventually be struck. Financial details of the extension were not revealed, but Irsay said that the contract places Polian in "the upper echelon" among league administrators.

Under the seven-year contract Polian signed in December 1997, after the team finished a league-worst 3-13, he averaged $1.3 million per season. The extension almost certainly pushes his salary beyond the $2 million mark.

Several of the NFL's top team administrators -- Carl Peterson of Kansas City, Rich McKay of Tampa Bay, and Ozzie Newsome of Baltimore -- have contracts that pay them $1.75 million to $2.2 million per year.

Serving as either general manager or president for three different franchises, Polian has won executive of the year honors five times during his career.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.