John Elway

John Elway Interested In Broncos Ownership Role

John Elway recently stepped down as the Broncos’ general manager, though he is now serving as the franchise’s president of football operations. But the former Super Bowl-winning executive and quarterback is eyeing a higher-profile post with the team.

If the Broncos are to be sold, Elway is interested in assembling an ownership group to buy the franchise, Mike Klis of 9News reports. This comes shortly after a report indicated Peyton Manning is interested in doing the same. While it is not certain the Broncos’ two Super Bowl-winning QBs wouldn’t team up, an either/or situation may be in the cards — should the team end up being sold. A sale is eventually expected.

[RELATED: Pat Bowlen Trustees Receiving Offers For Broncos?]

Elway’s interest runs counter to his statement shortly after Pat Bowlen‘s 2019 death, when the then-GM said he was not eyeing an ownership role with the Broncos. No longer running the team’s personnel department, Elway indeed appears interested now.

Elway, 61, has extensive business experience in Denver and, prior to returning to the Broncos in a GM role just more than 10 years ago, operated as co-owner of the Colorado Crush of the Arena Football League from the franchise’s 2002 inception until 2008. Manning is believed to be interested in a role that would allow him to potentially work in personnel; Elway already held such a post for 10 years. He hired George Paton to take his place as GM in January.

The Broncos’ former GM has begun preparations for a run as a minority investor, Klis notes, adding no sale will occur before the 2021 season ends. The Pat Bowlen Trust is currently running the Broncos, but squabbles between the siblings have led to a sale entering into the equation. The NFL’s preference has been for Brittany Bowlen, Pat’s youngest daughter, to run the team. That reality may be on the verge of being scuttled, opening the door to what could be a fascinating pursuit pitting Elway and Manning — both current Denver residents — against one another. Forbes recently valued the Broncos at $3.75 billion. This will certainly force the retired QBs to link up with deeper-pocketed buyers. Hurdles remain, of course, as a sale is not certain.

Additionally, the trial to determine whether the estate of Edgar Kaiser, the team’s owner before selling to Pat Bowlen in 1984, has the right of first refusal regarding a sale began Wednesday, Klis adds. An attorney representing the Broncos argued the parties’ agreement should be off since both Kasier and Bowlen died — Kaiser in 2012, Bowlen in 2019. Kaiser lost two previous attempts to execute his right of first refusal.

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Latest On Broncos Ownership, Peyton Manning’s Involvement

The Broncos may or may not be up for sale in the near future. The lawsuit filed by two of deceased owner Pat Bowlen‘s daughters was dismissed by a joint motion over the summer, which seemed indicate that a resolution as to the future of the team had been agreed upon. However, Broncos CEO Joe Ellis has not yet indicated whether one of Bowlen’s seven children (most likely youngest daughter Brittany Bowlen) will become the franchise’s next controlling owner, or if the club will be sold.

“Regarding the future of the Denver Broncos’ organization, our No. 1 priority remains a timely, responsible and orderly determination of ownership,” Ellis said recently. “There are no changes with the operation of the team, which is completely focused on a successful 2021 season.”

As Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, many club owners and other sources in the league believe the Broncos will be sold within the next year. The team is expected to net a cool $4B or so, which would be split among Bowlen’s children, and given the very public battle over controlling ownership, investors have been gearing up for a potential sale for some time.

Former Denver QB Peyton Manning, who was already said to be eyeing a role within the organization, has been in touch with several ownership groups, according to La Canfora. The NFL icon is reportedly interested in both a minority ownership stake as well as a role in the management of the team. Broncos exec John Elway would also like to stay with the franchise even if it’s sold.

Of course, Manning will have no shortage of opportunities to get back into the league, so it remains to be seen if a share of the Broncos and a voice in the club’s operations will be the route he chooses. Plus, the estate of previous owner Edgar Kaiser claims Bowlen gave Kaiser the right of first refusal if the team went up for sale again, which could obviously complicate matters.

One way or another, it does not sound as if high-profile, non-football candidates like Jay-Z and Jeff Bezos will be involved in this particular transaction.

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Latest On Broncos’ QB Plans

Several teams have already made big splashes under center this offseason, but the Broncos have been mostly quiet. That could change soon.

Denver “isn’t sitting still at the position,” Albert Breer of SI.com writes. Breer lays out details of the Broncos’ pursuits we haven’t heard before, including the previously unreported full offer they made for Matthew Stafford. The Broncos apparently did in fact offer the ninth overall pick to the Lions, but they wanted a second-rounder back in return which quelled those talks.

Breer thinks they’ll add competition for Drew Lock in one form or another, and he mentions the Panthers’ Teddy Bridgewater as a potential option. As he points out, new Broncos GM George Paton was in Minnesota when the Vikings drafted Bridgewater in the first-round. On that note, Breer has some interesting thoughts on the makeup of Denver’s new front office.

The fact that the team isn’t committing to Lock is “a pretty decent sign that John Elway has truly moved into the background,” Breer writes. He also thinks Denver’s lack of real interest in Sam Darnold is a telling sign that Elway isn’t calling the shots, since Elway was infatuated with Darnold coming out of college in 2018.

The team hired Paton to be GM earlier this offseason, with Elway getting elevated to President of Football Operations. At the time there were murmurs about how much power Elway would actually be ceding and how much he would still control the organization, but it sounds like he truly has relinquished the reins.

Broncos Shake Up Front Office, John Elway To Hire GM

Major shakeup out of Denver, as John Elway is giving up personnel control of the Broncos. In a surprising move, Elway will move to President of Football Operations, and will hire a GM who is in control of the roster, the team announced Monday.

As part of a transition I’ve thought about for a long time, I have made the decision to step up into an elevated role and hire a general manager to lead our personnel and football staff. While I’ll continue to be President of Football Operations in 2021, the GM will have final say on the draft, free agency and our roster. This person will be empowered to make all football decisions, working in partnership with Vic,” Elway said in a statement.

Under the new structure, both the new GM and Vic Fangio will report to Elway. Obviously the legendary former quarterback isn’t going anywhere, bu he is giving up a huge amount of power, and this feels like a way for the organization to bring in a new front office head without having to deal with the ordeal of firing Elway.

Elway took over in Denver in 2011, and obviously had quite a bit of success his first handful of years after luring Peyton Manning to the Broncos. That culminated in a win in Super Bowl 50, but things went downhill quickly after Manning and head coach Gary Kubiak retired.

The team has now endured four losing seasons in a row, and they have an unsettled quarterback situation with Drew Lock looking iffy his first two years in the league. Elway’s hire of Vance Joseph to replace Kubiak didn’t work out, and he’s drawn a lot of criticism for failing to stabilize things under center ever since Manning left. His one big swing in the draft, taking Paxton Lynch out of Memphis in the first-round, was an abject disaster.

There are now a whopping seven GM vacancies across the league. Elway’s top deputy has been Matt Russell, and he had an opportunity to interview for the GM job but declined and elected to retire, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Russell will stay on for the time being to help Elway with the GM search, Schefter says. Bears exec Champ Kelly, 49ers exec Adam Peters (who has been linked to several other openings), and Bucs exec John Spytek are all names to keep an eye on for this search, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network says (Twitter video link). Spytek previously was a national scout under Elway in Denver, Peters was with the Broncos from 2009-16, and Kelly was with the organization from 2007-14.

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AFC West Notes: Broncos, Brown, Chiefs

Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell required hospitalization after contracting the coronavirus, according to the team. The second-year Denver DC was hospitalized last week but discharged Sunday, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. He remains away from the team, recovering at home. Donatell, 63, has been battling COVID-19 symptoms since Oct. 31 and has missed the past three games. Donatell, who is in his third stint with the franchise, one of a few Broncos staffers to have contracted the virus. Running backs coach Curtis Modkins did so in October, and offensive line coach Mike Munchak was in the team’s COVID protocol. GM John Elway and team president Joe Ellis tested positive for the virus. Elway announced he has recovered, while Ellis has been in quarantine for nearly three weeks and has yet to be cleared to return, Klis notes.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • The NFL has expressed “serious concern” about the outbreak among Broncos staffers, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. The league and the NFLPA have continued to stress the importance of non-players adhering to the evolving COVID-19 protocols, per JLC.
  • The Raiders have been the league’s chief culprits at violating the NFL’s coronavirus policies, and their latest issue — Clelin Ferrell‘s positive test causing half the team’s starting defense to land on the reserve/COVID-19 list — could conceivably prompt the NFL to move another Las Vegas Sunday-night tilt off of primetime. As of Wednesday evening, however, the league has no plans to change the start time for Week 11’s Raiders-Chiefs rematch, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The NFL moved Week 7’s Buccaneers-Raiders game to a Sunday-afternoon window after Trent Brown‘s positive test caused Las Vegas’ starting O-line to miss a week’s worth of workouts.
  • Speaking of Brown, the mammoth right tackle remains on the Raiders’ COVID list. However, a hope exists Brown can receive clearance to resume workouts next week, Schefter tweets. Brown is naturally at higher risk of developing severe symptoms from the virus compared to most players, due to his weight (380 pounds), but he wants to play again this season. The Raiders have placed Brown on their virus list twice this year, the second time due to a pregame issue in Cleveland resulting in the 27-year-old blocker being hospitalized.
  • While Justin Simmons has not made an issue of his contract since he and the Broncos failed to come to an extension agreement in July, he would prefer to stay with the team, per the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran. The floor for the standout safety will likely be $14MM per year on a long-term deal, with five safeties signing deals worth $14MM AAV or more since March 2019. Simmons has played every snap for the Broncos this season and ranks as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-highest-graded safety, a year after he landed second on PFF’s list. Citing the pandemic, Simmons said, via O’Halloran, he is grateful for his setup (an $11.4MM franchise tag salary). This comes after he expressed disappointment no deal emerged this summer. If the Broncos tag Simmons again, he would be entitled to a $13.7MM 2021 salary.
  • Former Simmons secondary mate Chris Harris will return to action soon. The Chargers designated the All-Decade cornerback to return from IR on Wednesday. The team has three weeks to activate him. Harris, who signed a two-year deal worth $17.5MM in March, has been out since Week 2 because of a foot injury.

Broncos GM John Elway Tests Positive For COVID-19

Broncos GM John Elway and CEO Joe Ellis have tested positive for COVID-19, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Both execs believe they contracted the virus outside of the team facility and they’ll now stay away from the building, per protocols. The Broncos have since confirmed the news via press release:

[RELATED: Packers’ AJ Dillon Tests Positive For COVID-19]

[Ellis and Elway ]were informed this morning they tested positive for COVID-19. After not feeling 100 percent on Sunday morning, Joe promptly reported his symptoms to our medical team and watched Sunday’s game at home as a precaution. He continued to work from home on Monday before receiving a positive test result this morning.

John immediately left UCHealth Training Center on Monday morning after experiencing minor symptoms that he quickly brought to the attention of our medical staff. Other than mild symptoms, both Joe and John are doing well. They will continue to work from home in self-isolation and participate in virtual meetings while their health is monitored.

“Based on a review of contact tracing data with the league, we are confident these cases originated independently outside team facilities. There were minimal close contacts identified for each (no players or coaches), and those individuals have been notified.”

The Broncos have had a few recent cases, including defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and offensive line coach Mike Munchak. Right guard Graham Glasgow also tested positive on Thursday. So far, contact tracing has indicated that the coronavirus has not spread any further in the organization.

Elway wasn’t in attendance for the Broncos’ 31-30 win over the Chargers, and he won’t be on hand as they prepare for the Falcons this week. Elway can still work the phones between now and 4pm ET/3pm CT to explore potential trades, but the 3-4 Broncos aren’t expected to make any major moves.

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Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Broncos Won’t Retain Executive Mike Sullivan

The Broncs are moving on from one of John Elway‘s right-hand men. Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that director of football administration Mike Sullivan will not be retained. The executive’s contract expired following the 2019 season.

Sullivan had spent eight years with the organization, and as Klis notes, he served as the front office’s “salary cap guru/contract negotiator.” The former agent played a role in Peyton Manning‘s move to Denver, and he also guided the organization to their 2014 free agent haul (DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, Emmanuel Sanders, and T.J. Ward).

Klis makes it clear that Sullivan isn’t retiring (Twitter link). The executive’s experience means he could catch on with another organization or the league office. The reporter also suggests that Sullivan’s insight could lead to a career in media.

Meanwhile, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets that the Broncos wouldn’t have made this decision without a plan to replace Sullivan, and the reporter expects the front office to hire someone quickly. After all, the Broncos are flush with cap space and have a number of important decisions to make when it comes to handing out contracts to current players. Whoever’s hired to replace Sullivan will immediately make their mark on the organization during the offseason.

Broncos Notes: Free Agents, Simmons, McManus

Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback turned president of football operations John Elway has not needed to break the bank retaining the team’s free agents over the past few years. Ryan O’Halloran of The Denver Post opines that this offseason may force Denver to change that approach. O’Halloran looks at every Bronco set for free agency and analyzes whether the team should try to resign them.

Veterans Chris Harris and Derek Wolfe highlight a crop that includes multiple starters and a number of main rotational pieces. At just 3-8, Denver has a lot of holes to fill, but they will have over $70MM in cap space to target more outside talent and retain the internal players they want to keep.

Here’s more from the franchise in the Mile High City:

  • Regardless of how Denver handles the rest of their free-agent crop, the Broncos need to retain safety Justin Simmons, opines Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. While the team obviously hopes to return to contention as soon as possible, the team has to wonder whether players like Harris and Wolfe will still be playing at a good enough level by the time they turn it around. Just 26 years old, Simmons fits for the franchise regardless of how long it takes them to rebuild.
  • While it had little impact on the outcome of the Broncos 20-3 loss on Sunday against the Bills, kicker Brandon McManus told reporters postgame that the weather conditions in Buffalo resulted in the most difficult kick of his career, according to Ryan O’Halloran of The Denver Post. With seventeen mile per hour winds at kickoff, McManus managed to make a 45-yard field goal kicking against the win, accounting for the teams only points. However, his two kickoffs against the win failed to reach the Bills ten-yard line.

Broncos GM: No One On Trade Block

According to multiple reports, the Broncos are ready to deal before the trade deadline. According to GM John Elway, there are no players being shopped. 

“You guys bring all those names up. I have not brought any names up. We’re trying to win football games over here. So, no one from our side is in the trading block. ” Elway said (Twitter link via Troy Renck of Denver 7). “We’re going to try to win football games.”

Among the names brought up in recent days: star linebacker Von Miller, cornerback Chris Harris, defensive tackle Derek Wolfe, and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. With less than three weeks to go before the deadline, and a 1-4 record, Elway’s denial might not too much to stop the speculation.

Miller is reportedly open to a change of scenery and all of his major bonuses and guarantees have already been paid, so he would be a logical trade chip. Still, last we heard, the Broncos are not interested in parting ways with him, and Elway says the same.

The Broncos will face the Titans, Chiefs, and Colts before the trade deadline on Tuesday, October 29. If Elway is to be believed, the roster will be largely the same heading into the following game against the Browns.

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