John Elway

Broncos Notes: Joseph, Thomas, Elway

His new team dealing perhaps the final blow to his previous employer’s 2018 playoff hopes via 19-17 win in Week 9, Texans wide receiver Demaryius Thomas expressed issues he had with the Broncos’ coaching staff. Thomas said during an interview with former Broncos Ray Crockett and Rod Smith on Orange and Blue 760 (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter) Vance Joseph informed him he would be staying in Denver after the trade deadline. Though, to be fair to the second-year head coach, he may not have known the status of John Elway‘s progress in acquiring a mid-round pick for the veteran wideout. Thomas said his agent told him Elway wanted a fifth-round pick in a trade, helping perhaps to explain the GM’s decision to accept a Texans fourth-round pick.

Additionally, Thomas told Crockett and Smith the coaching staff made him feel as though he was holding back rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton and that first-year receivers coach Zach Azzani asked only Thomas to come out of a Jets loss to give Hamilton more snaps (Twitter links via Jhabvala). Joseph said (via Mike Klis of 9News) he didn’t recall a trade-related conversation with Thomas unfolding the way the since-jettisoned wideout said it did.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • As for Joseph’s job security, Elway offered a lukewarm endorsement. “At this point in time, we’re going to stay the course,” Elway said during an Orange and Blue 760 interview (via Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press). “I think there’s enough good things that are going on as far as us and the way that we’re playing. I’m much more encouraged this year than I was last year.” The Broncos have lost four one-score games — all to teams with at least six wins — but are 3-6 and may be on the verge of their first back-to-back losing seasons since the mid-1970s. It’s hard to imagine Joseph (8-17 as a head coach) receiving a third year.
  • A possible route Elway might go in 2019, look no further than the success the Chiefs are having. Buzz is developing in NFL circles (via SI.com’s Albert Breer) that Elway has taken a “special interest” in the college-type concepts that have helped not just the Chiefs but other teams around the league. Should Elway hire another coach in January, it will be his fourth since taking a front office job with his former team. He interviewed Joseph, Kyle Shanahan and Chiefs ST coordinator Dave Toub for the job Joseph received.
  • Wide receiver Jordan Taylor won’t play for the Broncos this season, Jhabvala tweets. He will stay on the PUP list the rest of the way. Taylor’s 21-day practice window expired on Monday.
  • Matt Paradis underwent surgery to repair a broken right fibula, Klis notes. The veteran center will be a free agent in March, but Klis adds the Broncos are interested in bringing him back. The sides discussed an extension before the season but did not come to terms. Prior to the injury Sunday, Paradis had started every game for the Broncos since the start of their 2015 Super Bowl season.

Latest On Broncos Ownership Situation

The ownership of the Broncos has been a hotly contested issue for years now, and it appears the fighting between various members of the Bowlen family might finally be reaching a boiling point. Owner Pat Bowlen has been unable to manage the team for a while now as he suffers from Alzheimer’s, and now Pat’s younger brother Bill Bowlen is suing the trust in charge of the team, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post.

The team had been placed into the trust, led by Broncos CEO Joe Ellis, which has been taking a very slow years-long approach to crowning a new controlling owner, in July of 2014. The battle within the family had been playing out mostly behind the scenes until recently, when it spilled out into the press. Just last week Bowlen’s 28-year-old daughter, Brittany Bowlen, confirmed her long-rumored desire to eventually take over the team. Some league executives and members of the Broncos organization are reportedly most bullish on her prospects as a future owner.

A different one of Bowlen’s daughters Beth Bowlen Wallace, 47, came out a few months ago and criticized Ellis for dragging his feet and said she wanted control of the team. Ellis responded by saying “we have determined that she is not capable or qualified at this time” in regard to Beth. Now Bill is suing the trust, asking the court to remove Ellis and the other members of the trust “due to their failure to uphold Pat Bowlen’s wishes and act in the best interest of Pat Bowlen, his family and the Broncos”, according to O’Halloran.

Troy Renck of Denver 7 tweets “Bill Bowlen has not had stake in Broncos for years” after selling his shares to Pat back in 2002 and writes that he doesn’t “see how he would have any enforceable right in this matter.” Renck also tweeted out the official response from the trust, which states that Bill is working with the same lawyers as Beth Bowlen Wallace. It appears as if Beth and Bill are working together to try and acquire control of the team before it is handed over to Brittany, who seems to be the most likely and preferred successor at this point.

It’s a messy situation, and one that has had a ripple effect in the front office. It’s thrown the team into limbo, and has contributed greatly to the job security of GM John Elway, as no one really has the authority to fire him currently. We should know more about the lawsuit soon, and it will be a very interesting story to watch play out.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Elway, Titans, Bryant, Holland

John Elway could be a potential candidate to buy the Broncos should the Bowlen family decide to sell the team, speculates Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. There’s been some drama recently within the Bowlen family about who should take over the team. Owner Pat Bowlen removed himself from the team several years ago as his health worsened. The team was placed into a trust, and Bowlen’s children have been doing battle in the media for a while now as several angle to be put in charge. Broncos CEO Joe Ellis recently said Pat’s daughter Beth wasn’t “qualified” for the position, a claim she responded to forcefully.

Kiszla points out that Elway’s contract as head of football operations runs until 2021. He thinks that if everything goes smoothly until then, Brittany Bowlen could step in then and run the team. But if things go south, the family could force a sale of the team, in which case Kiszla thinks Elway might try and put together the funding to buy the team himself.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Broncos rookie undrafted pass-rusher Jeff Holland not only has a good chance at making the team, but at becoming the “next solid undrafted pass rusher”, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post. O’Halloran thinks Holland “made an impression” this offseason and notes that Shane Ray’s injury will improve Holland’s chances of making the team.
  • Don’t expect the Titans to make a run at Dez Bryant writes Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. Wyatt notes that the previous veteran receiver signings the Titans have made haven’t worked out and that the team “wants to see the team’s current players develop.”
  • In case you missed it, Patriots tight end Dwayne Allen could be cut by the team in a cost-saving move.

Brandon Beane On Bills’ First-Round Trades

Brandon Beane enjoyed a complicated night on his first draft as Bills GM. And he detailed the extensive process in an expansive piece by Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News.

The Bills were ready to give the Broncos an extra first- and second-round pick, Beane confirms of Mike Klis of 9News’ report that emerged on draft weekend. Denver and Buffalo’s GMs agreed to the swap at around 7pm CT on draft night — one that would have sent Buffalo’s Nos. 12 and 22 picks and one of its second-rounders to Denver in exchange for the No. 5 overall choice and a third-round pick — but John Elway told Beane the deal would be off if a certain player was still on the board.

Beane wondered if that player was Denzel Ward, but when a text message came alerting Beane that Bradley Chubb might fall past the Browns at No. 4, he began to worry about his plans to acquire Josh Allen.

I was really nervous when Cleveland got on the clock. You’ve got your channels where you’re getting information outside of the draft room. Somebody told me, it’s down to Ward or Chubb,” Beane said, via Skurski. “Earlier in the day, people felt like they were probably going to go Chubb. That was my first four. I did say it was going to be Chubb, and we’ll go to Denver. I was wrong. Not until (the Browns) were on the clock did I get the text from somebody that said, ‘Hey, Ward may go here.’ I said (expletive).”

I was a little bummed when Elway told me, ‘Hey, this is our guy.’ I felt like what I had to offer John was better than anybody else could offer. I felt like I was bidding against myself, basically.”

Beane became leery of the Dolphins and Cardinals moving up to No. 7 for Allen, whom Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller reported was their No. 1-rated quarterback, but he would no longer be willing to part with the No. 22 pick like he was in talks with the Broncos at No. 5. And he wasn’t willing to trade the Bills’ 2019 first-rounder.

(Assistant GM) Joe (Schoen) would say, ‘(the Buccaneers) want this and this,’ and it included 22, and I said no,” Beane said. “It was just too much. I would have done 22 at five. I wasn’t doing it there. Because I knew nobody could be offering that. … That was the biggest obstacle I faced during the whole thing. Everybody wanted next year’s one leading up to the draft, and I wasn’t doing it.”

Beane and Schoen then approached the 49ers at No. 9, but John Lynch was zeroed in on Mike McGlinchey. However, Jason Licht called Beane back and said he would accept the offer of both of Buffalo’s second-round picks. The Bills collected a seventh-rounder from the Bucs as well.

He said, ‘I’ll do it for the twos, but we’ve got to do it right now,’ ” Beane told Skurski. “I said alright, I need another pick, though. I need a player. I don’t care what it is, just give me your last pick, whatever it is. He said, ‘Alright, done.

(The Broncos taking Chubb) was a blessing in disguise. I was tight after Denver’s pick. I was trying not to show it to the room, but I was tight. Joe and I, we were very tight.”

In passing on the chance to acquire additional first- and second-round picks, the Broncos are betting big on Chubb. Beane said he also spoke with the Giants and Browns about the Nos. 2 and 4 picks, and Skurski reports the only trade Beane would have made pre-draft was with the Giants at No. 2.

Skurski adds the Bills finalized their quarterback hierarchy following their April 13 Sam Darnold workout. Miller reported this week Darnold was the Bills’ top-rated quarterback, so it would have made sense for a trade to the second slot. Although, Darnold was still connected to the Browns at No. 1 at that point. The Bills were rumored to be targeting a top-five pick for weeks prior to the draft, but the Giants and Browns wanted more than Beane was willing to offer, per Skurski.

As for the Bills’ second Round 1 trade, Beane contacted the Packers at No. 14 and Raiders at No. 15. Green Bay ended up accepting a New Orleans offer that did include a 2019 first, and Oakland did not want to trade down again, per Skurski. Edmunds was the target because of the Bills’ situation at linebacker, Beane said, and the Ravens quickly agreed to a deal at No. 16.

(Edmunds) was sticking out on our board, and it’s a need,” Beane said. “If a guy is sticking out on our board, and it’s really not a need, you might not do it. But with the hole we had there, and where he was on our board, it was a no-brainer. Even if we could have got to 14, we would have done it.”

Broncos Notes: Keenum, Harris, Draft, Dixon

Mock drafts have gone in numerous directions regarding the Broncos‘ No. 5 overall pick, and it’s possible the team could make yet another big investment at the position. But if they do, Case Keenum will not be ceding the reins anytime soon. John Elway confirmed that if the Broncos do select a quarterback at No. 5 overall the recently signed quarterback would be the unquestioned first-stringer.

Case is our starter,’’ Elway said, via Mike Klis of 9News. “We’ll cross that road when we get there. Every situation for young quarterbacks is different. I think it’s different in today’s world, and the fact that it depends on what kind of football team those guys step onto.”

The 2016 Eagles thrust Carson Wentz into duty from the start because they traded Sam Bradford, whereas the 2017 Bears allowed Mike Glennon four starts before turning to Mitch Trubisky. It can be expected Keenum will have a longer leash, if the Broncos opt to bypass a top-tier non-QB.

Here’s the latest out of Denver:

  • The Broncos have gotten All-Pro work from Chris Harris for No. 2 cornerback money over the past three seasons. They’ve agreed to incentivize the eighth-year corner’s deal, and Klis details what that will entail. Harris was a first-team All-Pro in 2016 and a second-teamer in Denver’s Super Bowl season; should he land on one of those two teams this year, he’ll earn $500K. Harris can collect $200K for a two-interception season, and if he reaches five picks, Klis reports that bumps up to $500K. Harris has intercepted two passes in each of the past three seasons. Interestingly, the Broncos’ win total will impact their top corner as well. Klis reports Harris playing 65 percent of Denver’s snaps and the team winning six games will mean a $300K bonus, with a 75 percent snap season and eight Bronco wins meaning that spikes to $600K. Harris, who has an $8.5MM base salary in 2018, has been a full-time player for the past six seasons. If Denver returns to the playoffs, the soon-to-be 29-year-old DB earns $300K.
  • Prior to their trade earlier tonight, the Broncos and Giants had been circling each other about a deal for Riley Dixon for a bit now, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Klis reports (via Twitter) Vance Joseph told the incumbent punter the day the team signed Marquette King he would be moved. Multiple teams were interested in the third-year specialist, per Klis.
  • Elway appears to have evolved on his affinity for cannon-armed QBs. The addition of Keenum, who does not have an upper-echelon arm the way Paxton Lynch does, marked a change of pace for a GM that’s targeted tall passers with strong arms. “I was a lot more six or seven years ago, but then we had Peyton (Manning), right?’’ Elway said, via Klis. “Peyton was more of the cerebral type. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been doing this job as far as what certain quarterbacks have success with.”
  • However, the GM that traded Tim Tebow after a memorable season doesn’t regard it as a must to have a mobile quarterback. “The bottom line is that I believe the one thing is that you got to be able to win from the pocket,” the eighth-year exec said. “You can win games, but you can’t win championships unless you have the ability to win it from the pocket. Then if you can get out and move around and create, and do those types of things then that’s an added bonus.” While the Broncos have been connected to Baker Mayfield, an earlier report indicated they were high on Josh Rosen — the least mobile of the top four QBs in this class.

AFC Notes: Anthem, Jets, Raiders, Broncos

Among the most divisive issues facing the NFL today are national anthem protests. That division is also felt among the owners themselves, who are currently in Orlando for the annual owner’s meetings.

Outspoken on the subject for more than a year, Texans owner Bob McNair issued another statement on the issue on Sunday, saying, according to The Washington Post’s Mark Maske (Twitter link):

“We’re going to deal with it in such a way, I think, that people will understand that we want everybody to respect our country, respect our flag. And our playing fields, that’s not the place for political statements.”

Jets CEO Christopher Johnson, however, falls on the other side of the argument, according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert (Twitter link).

“I can’t speak to how other people run their teams, but I just think that trying to forcibly get the players to shut up is a fantastically bad idea.”

Despite McNair’s seeming assuredness, the owners do not appear to be near to a solution. The issue is sure to permeate throughout the meetings.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Sticking with the Jets, wide receiver Robby Anderson had his court date moved from Monday to Aug. 6, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The new date will now take place while the Jets are at training camp. The charges, stemming from a January incident, include three felonies: second-degree felony harm to a public servant or family, third-degree felony fleeing/eluding police while lights/siren active and third-degree felony speeding. After being arrested, Anderson threatened to sexually assault the wife of the arresting officer, according to reports. Anderson was allegedly clocked at 105 mph in 45-mph zone speeding away from police while running multiple red lights.
  • Broncos general manager and executive vice president of football operations John Elway said the team doesn’t know who it plans to take with the No. 5 pick in 2018 NFL Draft, 9 News’ Mike Klis writes. “You know we’re wide open, to be dead honest with you,’’ Elway said. “Who knows how it’s all going to fall. The Jets have already moved (from the No. 6 pick up to No. 3) and there’s going to be other teams that may be moving around, too, so we’re going to go through and have those discussions. I will tell ya, it’s funny how people think they know who you’re drafting because I don’t know who we’re drafting, yet. We’re going to do our homework and eventually get there.’’ 
  • Raiders owner Mark Davis said with the hiring of new head coach Jon Gruden, he plans to be done with the football side of the organization, NBC Sports’ Scott Bair tweets. “It was a six-year process to get Jon to be the head coach,” Davis said. “This year, he finally came on board. That allows me to see a long-term process working out on the football side. … I play devil’s advocate on certain things, but those guys make the decisions.”

 

 

Broncos To Retain HC Vance Joseph

The Broncos will not make a change following a disappointing 5-11 campaign, as the team will bring back head coach Vance Joseph for 2018, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports (Twitter link). Vance Joseph (vertical)

Team executive vice president of football operations and general manager John Elway reportedly went back and forth on the decision and decided to keep the first-year coach after taking the night to think it over.

Shortly after the news broke, Elway tweeted: “Vance and I had a great talk this morning about our plan to attack this offseason and get better as a team. We believe in Vance as our head coach. Together, we’ll put in the work to improve in all areas and win in 2018.”

It was long expected that Joseph would be retained but rumors picked up on Sunday that he would likely be out instead. Elway apparently had a change of heart once again and opted keep the defensive-minded coach. Had he been let go, he would have been the first non-interim coach in team history to be fired after just one season.

The first order of business for Joseph in his second season will be to find consistency at the quarterback position. The team will enter 2018 with Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian on the roster, but it is likely the team will look to free agents like Kirk Cousins or the NFL Draft to fill the role. With the No. 5 pick in the upcoming draft, the team is in borderline contention for UCLA’s Josh Rosen and USC’s Sam Darnold, the two highest-rated signal-callers at the moment.

With a strong defense and plenty of weapons on offense, the Broncos are a top candidate to make a rapid turnaround in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Gruden, Lewis, Joseph

The Raiders‘ firing of Jack Del Rio less than a year after signing him to an extension would have come as a shock at this season’s outset, when the team was picked by most to win the AFC West. But now that Jon Gruden‘s name is in the mix, the franchise is operating like it has a real shot to lure him back to Oakland.

In firing Del Rio, the Raiders are confident they can bring Gruden back to Oakland, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Raiders doing this looks indeed to be for a Gruden landing, with Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News hearing (Twitter link) the Gruden buzz is legitimate. This comes shortly after Gruden’s name was connected with the Buccaneers. But the Bucs kept Dirk Koetter after a less successful tenure compared to Del Rio’s Oakland run. The Gruden noise appears louder regarding the Raiders. He was the most recent coach to receive a four-year opportunity coaching the Silver and Black, doing so from 1998-2001 prior to being traded to the Bucs in early 2002.

Here’s the latest from the coaching carousel.

  • Marvin LewisBengals played a spoiler in Week 17, knocking the Ravens out of the playoffs. The coach’s future in Cincinnati remains murky, however, as his contract expires. Lewis made an interesting comment postgame regarding his status. When asked if he would accept Mike Brown‘s offer to remain the Bengals’ HC in 2018, Lewis replied (via Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com), “It’s a little more complicated than that.” A report emerged last week about Lewis stepping down from his 15-year post. He has yet to confirm that.
  • Vance Joseph‘s Broncos tenure is also up in the air. However, the rookie head coach said he “absolutely” expects to be the team’s coach in 2018 and said (via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, on Twitter) he has not been informed of a decision yet. Joseph said he will meet with John Elway tonight or Monday. The Broncos have never fired a coach after one season. However, this is only the second time in 27 seasons they’ve won five or fewer games. Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter) Elway will not make the decision tonight, planning to sleep on it. Klis adds that it shouldn’t be a surprise if Joseph is given a second season.
  • Bruce Arians met with Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill on Sunday morning, Laura Okmin of Fox Sports reports, adding a decision on whether or not he will step down could come by New Year’s Day (Twitter link). Arians has said himself his decision could come as soon as Monday, or as late as February, although Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes he’s likely to leave.

AFC West Notes: A. Smith, Broncos, M. Williams

After jumping out to a 5-0 start this year, the Chiefs have lost four of their last five games, making themselves vulnerable to the surging Chargers and even the Raiders in the AFC West. The team’s offensive struggles have contributed to that swoon, and quarterback Alex Smith has fallen off a bit after a torrid first half. He is coming off a miserable performance in Kansas City’s loss to the lowly Giants last week, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Chiefs would only turn to rookie first-rounder Patrick Mahomes if Smith were to get hurt. Smith will remain under center the rest of the year, though Kansas City still plans to shop him in the offseason as it prepares to usher in the Mahomes era.

Now for more notes from the AFC West:

  • New Chiefs CB Darrelle Revis will likely make his Kansas City debut next week, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • Paxton Lynch is back under center for the Broncos, and Rapoport (video link) says they want him to start the rest of the year so they can fairly evaluate what they have in last year’s first-rounder. The team will run a much simpler offensive scheme for Lynch than what it employed under former OC Mike McCoy, and Lynch has been encouraged to simply do what he does best, which is run around and improvise.
  • We learned earlier today that the Raiders are likely to fire OC Todd Downing at season’s end, and that McCoy is an obvious candidate to replace him. Within that story, we cited another La Canfora article in which the CBS scribe reported that the McCoy firing might have been just the tip of the iceberg for the Broncos. He suggests that there is speculation that head coach Vance Joseph could be out after just one year on the job, and at the very least, that Denver could shake up other parts of its coaching staff.
  • Broncos GM John Elway has taken a lot of heat for his club’s 3-7 record in 2017, but Mike Klis of 9News.com says that criticism is largely unwarranted. In an interesting piece that pits Elway’s draft results against those of his long-tenured colleagues, Elway comes out near the top of the heap of NFL general managers, which makes Klis believe he will be able to turn the ship around in 2018.
  • We learned Friday that Chargers rookie wideout Mike Williams avoided an ACL tear during his team’s Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys, and Rapoport tweets that Williams has been diagnosed with a bone bruise. While Williams is expected to miss next week’s contest against the Browns, he will be week-to-week thereafter, which is a big deal for a team that has forced its way back into the playoff hunt.

AFC Notes: Bills, Phins, Cutler, Broncos, Jets

Though there weren’t many positives to glean from a 54-24 drubbing by the Chargers, the Bills did receive one bit of good news on Monday. Newly acquired wideout Kelvin Benjamin did not tear his ACL in the loss, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (Twitter link).

Though the injury could force the physical receiver to miss a few games, he should be able to help the Bills, currently tied with Baltimore for the last playoff spot, contend for a wildcard berth down the stretch.

After letting Robert Woods walk and trading away Sammy Watkins in the offseason, Buffalo pulled off a deadline deal with Carolina for Benjamin, who was expected to serve as Tyrod Taylor‘s top target. That has yet to come to fruition with Benjamin catching four passes in two games and Taylor being benched for the first half vs. Los Angeles.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Dolphins QB Jay Cutler is officially in the NFL’s concussion protocol, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The Dolphins are 4-6 and mired in a four-game losing streak, so their showdown with New England could be a make-or-break game for their slim playoff hopes. Matt Moore will assume the starting role should Cutler not be fit for the game.
  • After being placed on injured reserve earlier this month, Raiders first-round pick Gareon Conley underwent surgery to repair his injured shin on Monday, NBC Sports’ Scott Blair reports. The cornerback suffered the injury in training camp and aggravated it in Week 3 vs. Washington.
  • The Jets are still holding out hope for the postseason. With that in mind, the team will roll with Josh McCown as the team’s starting quarterback unless injured, reports Newsday’s Calvin Watkins. McCown is on the same page as Bowles and appreciates the vote of confidence.
  • Following the firing of Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator, the Broncos promoted Bill Musgrave to the post and named Klint Kubiak quarterbacks coach, according to Schefter. The offensive coordinator in Oakland the last two seasons, Musgrave helped the Raiders produce one of the league’s most potent offenses in 2016. Kubiak, the son of former Broncos head coach and team senior personnel advisor Gary Kubiak, served as wide receivers coach at Kansas in 2015 before joining the Broncos as an assistant in 2016.
  • Remaining with the shakeup in Denver, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes that John Elway should also receive some blame for the team’s downward spiral in 2017. Florio writes: “Despite efforts to blame the players and, as of Monday morning, to blame offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, and possibly to blame coach Vance Joseph, responsibility for the six-game losing goes to every layer and level of the organization, and the buck ultimately stops on Elway’s desk.”