February 7th, 2016. A victorious Denver Broncos team celebrate winning the 50th Superbowl in Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara. General Manager John Elway could do no wrong. Hiring Gary Kubiak as head coach and winning a Super Bowl in his first season was seen as a master stroke.
Skip forward 12 months later and the Broncos miss out on the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, as the New England Patriots go on to win arguably the greatest Super Bowl of all time. Kubiak steps away due to ill health. Future Hall of Fame linebacker DeMarcus Ware retires. Questions are now being asked about Elway’s future in Denver. What a difference a year can make.
For months, we have been told by the organisation that Elway’s impending new deal was “going to happen” — it simply needed to happen. On July 24th 2017, Denver Broncos fans received the news they desperately wanted to hear: Elway will be GM for another five years.
Both Elway and the Denver Broncos reached an agreement on a new five-year deal that will keep the Broncos legend in Denver through the 2021 season. No remuneration details have been made public at this time, but Elway is expected to be the highest-paid GM in the NFL.
“During these last six seasons, John’s clearly established himself as one of the best general managers in all of sports,” President and CEO Joe Ellis said in an official Broncos statement.
“There’s no doubt John means a great deal to the Broncos, our fans and the entire community. It was important for us to reach this long-term agreement, and we’re all excited to now turn our full attention toward the 2017 season.”
As the disappointment of not making the playoffs lingered through the early months 2017, so did the questions over Elway’s future. The draft came and went, so to did the offseason workouts, and still no deal, just the common refrain of a work in progress.
Despite the anxiety in some quarters with preseason fast approaching, former Broncos guard Mark Schlereth, who won two Super Bowl rings with Elway, told Broncos Europe’s 5280 Podcast last week that he was confident Elway would sign a new deal.
“I think his contract is pretty far down on the back burner for John,” Schlereth said. “It’s about drafting well, finding out who the starting quarterback for this team will be. I think those things take precedent with him—these are paramount things that he must tackle, so the contract at an appropriate time will get done.”
Broncos TV reported on the deal:
As expected, Broncos Country was delighted on social media with the news of John Elway’s new deal:
Broncos and John Elway have agreed to a new 5-year contract that ties him to Denver through the 2021 season, source tells ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 24, 2017
— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) July 24, 2017
Congrats @johnelway best thing bout Elway don’t matter Undrafted or drafted Best players got a shot to make them team .
— Chris Harris (@ChrisHarrisJr) July 25, 2017
— ThatsGoodSports (@BrandonPerna) July 24, 2017
While we were all delighted at the news, it was then announced barely a day later that former coach Kubiak would return to the organisation, in a scouting role.
Kubiak rejoins the Broncos as a senior personnel advisor, almost seven months after his departure, with a new direction in mind after his retirement from coaching.
“I’m getting out of coaching, but I have a lot to give,” Kubiak said. “I’m going to find something else to do and I’m going to wake up with that same passion and do that, just like I’ve coached for the last 20-something years. It’s time for me to step away from the coaching field.”
Today, he returned.
“It’s an honor for me to continue to be part of this great organization,” Kubiak said. “John and I talked long ago about any opportunity like this, and I’m very happy to be able to contribute on the personnel side.
“I said when I left that I still wanted to be involved in football. This gives me an opportunity to be involved with the game, and I’m excited to get to work.”
This is no doubt a boost for the organisation going into Broncos training camp, which starts on Thursday. Broncos Country on social media were also delighted at the news:
Breaking: John Elway is on a role. 5-year contract yesterday; hires Gary Kubiak as scout today. #9sports
— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) July 25, 2017
— Broncos Europe (@BroncosEUR) July 25, 2017
The next few weeks will certainly be exciting at Dove Valley as the season gets closer. Most importantly, despite rumoured interest from several other teams in the NFL, Elway is going nowhere.
Mark Schlereth appeared on episode 3 of the 5280 Podcast. Listen to the full show, also featuring Broncos QB Kyle Sloter, and former head coach and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, below or subscribe on iTunes.