Top candidates for GM job in Indy

Who will replace Bill Polian as general manager of the Indianapolis Colts? Brian Spurlock/US Presswire

Adam Schefter answers reader questions in his mailbag twice a week. Got a query of your own? Submit it here.

Q: Adam, both Polian's are gone. Who is out there and available as a GM? Is Jim Caldwell safe? If not, do you think Tony Dungy would come back? I've been a season ticket holder since Day 1 of the Colts in Indy and I have never seen so many critical issues as we now face!?

-- Bob (Indiana)

A: The Colts have the most intriguing offseason of any team in the league for a variety of reasons, Bob. Let's start with the GM search. There are a bunch of qualified contenders, though few names who have surfaced yet. Some names that have generated conversation around the league include Arizona's Steve Keim, Philadelphia's Ryan Grigson, Seattle's Scot McCloughan and Will Lewis, Atlanta's Les Snead, Tennessee's Lake Dawson, Green Bay's John Dorsey and Reggie McKenzie, the Jets' Joey Clinkscales and Ari Nissim and Baltimore's Eric DeCosta.

But there are so many qualified candidates out there that it's hard to list all of them. Any one of them could be in play in Indianapolis. No matter who it is, it's probably a long shot that Caldwell returns. Just hard to imagine it. Now it could happen, but it's a long shot. And Dungy is always there to help Colts owner Jim Irsay in the event that he needs help finding a new general manager. Irsay knows where to find him, but he's not going to hire him right now. Dungy is too happy doing what he does. Of course, the big question involves Peyton Manning and whether he'll be healthy enough to play in 2012. If he is, the Colts are in a great position of power, for whoever takes over the franchise.

Q: How do you think the Oakland Raiders will bounce back after their disappointing end to the season? I know Darren McFadden will be back (hopefully healthy), but will they try to add any players to their team in free agency?

-- Drew (California)

A: Here's the problem with the spot the Raiders are in, Drew: They gave away their first-round pick this year and at least their second-round pick next year. They've given out some big contracts and are projected to be over the cap for next season and will have to slash salaries. They're a bit handcuffed as to what they can and can't do. Now getting back McFadden definitely will help, and it's hard not to wonder how good this team could have been if McFadden and Carson Palmer had gotten the chance to play together this season, which they never did. So that's what Oakland is going to bank on for next season, the union of McFadden and Palmer. There aren't a lot of ways for this team to get better next season through the draft or free agency.

Q: Were you more surprised that Andy Reid or Norv Turner will be back in Philadelphia and San Diego respectively next season? I was sure that Turner would be out.

-- Travis (Washington)

A: The expectations were that Turner would be out, Travis, but San Diego did win four of its last five games, and the Chargers felt there was enough momentum there and goodwill to keep riding with Turner and A.J. Smith. Now eventually these guys are going to have to make it to -- and win in -- the postseason, which they've struggled to do. If that doesn't happen, it looks like 2012 could be it for them. And there never was a feeling that Andy Reid would not be back. The expectation was that Philadelphia would keep him. Eagles fans wanted him out, but team owner Jeffrey Lurie did not. Lurie will keep Reid as long as Reid wants to keep coaching in Philadelphia. Don't forget that Reid has led the Eagles to the playoffs in 10 of his 13 seasons. Just about any city in the country would sign up right now for playoff appearances in 10 of the next 13 seasons.

Q: Which of the lower seeds in either conference do [you] think has the best chance to make a playoff run? I think that the New York Giants could make a deep run in the NFC.

-- Ben (Iowa)

A: Maybe, Ben, but I'd ride with Pittsburgh. For starters, the NFC is loaded. You could make an argument that any team there is good enough to get to the Super Bowl. The same can't be said in the AFC. So the AFC is a less challenging conference, which lends itself to the idea that one of the lower seeds would be better prepared to make a run. And we've seen Pittsburgh do it before. It's good enough, and tough enough, to do it again.