Broncos To Hire A GM; Elway To Remain President Of Football Operations

Denver Broncos President of Football Operations John Elway. (Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Denver Broncos President of Football Operations John Elway. (Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos will hire a general manager.

President of Football Operations John Elway said Monday he will take an elevated role in the organization and the new GM will have "full authority to oversee personnel and football departments" and report to him.

In restructuring the football operations, Elway said, “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 [Fangio]."

Broncos CEO Joe Ellis and head coach Vic Fangio will join Elway in the hiring process for the GM.

According to multiple media reports, Elway's right-hand man, Matt Russell, has declined to interview for the GM position and will retire.

The Broncos join the Texans, Jaguars, Falcons, Panthers, Lions and Washington as teams looking for a general manager.

Elway spoke with Big Al and JoJo on KOA NewsRadio 850 AM and 94.1 about the changes and why this was a good time for him to step away from day-to-day operations.

1-4-21 John Elway with Big Al and JoJo on KOA NewsRadio


Elway will remain President of Football Operations and hire general manager

       ENGLEWOOD, Colo.John Elway on Monday announced his decision to make changes to the Denver Broncos’ football operations. He will remain as president of football operations in 2021 and hire a general manager with full authority to oversee the personnel and football departments.

       The general manager will join Head Coach Vic Fangio in reporting to Elway as part of a new football leadership structure.


       “Working in this role for the last 10 years and going back to my playing days, I’ve always tried to do everything I can to help the Broncos win and get better. 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 [Fangio].

       “I will be there to support our GM and Vic, providing my perspective, helping with the big decisions and being a sounding board whenever needed. With all that goes into the day-to-day responsibilities of a GM and how the job has grown, this structure will set us up for success and allow me to focus on the big picture.

       “This is a great place with all the resources to win. We have a lot of good people on the football side, and I’ll be there for them in any way possible.

       “The relationship between the GM and Head Coach is very important—Vic is going to be involved in this hiring process. We’ll cast a wide net, and I will start the search immediately with input from Vic and Joe [Ellis].

       “I’m excited to begin this chapter and find the next general manager of the Denver Broncos.”


       “John Elway is the most important and impactful person in the history of the Denver Broncos. I have nothing but gratitude for how he accepted this challenge 10 years ago and helped us accomplish great things as an organization. In recent weeks, he and I have had a number of very positive—and honest—conversations about improving the team as well as his own future. John arrived at this decision, and I am fully supportive of him and this new structure. With all of his experience and competitive fire, I know John will be a tremendous resource for the Broncos in this role.”

       Completing his 10th season leading the Broncos’ football operations in 2020, Elway has helped Denver post the eight-most overall wins (96) in the NFL since he was hired by late Owner Pat Bowlen on Jan. 5, 2011. During that time, the Broncos have totaled six winning seasons (2011-16), five AFC West division titles (2011-15), two AFC Championships (2013, ’15) and one Super Bowl victory (2015).

       Inheriting a team that finished 4-12 in 2010, Elway oversaw a drastic turnaround in which the Broncos began one of the most successful eras in franchise history. He helped the Broncos to five consecutive playoff berths (2011-15) for the first time ever, including a four-year stretch (2012-15) in which Denver led the NFL with a team-record 55 wins and earned a first-round playoff bye each season.

       The Broncos’ 71 wins through Elway’s first 100 games as general manager are believed to be the most by a lead football executive in NFL history.

       Among current general managers, Elway’s .565 winning percentage (96-74) ranks fourth in the NFL. Along with team success, Elway is also the only general manager in the NFL during his tenure to acquire future Pro Bowl players through each of the following ways: NFL Draft, street free agency, unrestricted free agency and college free agency (17 players with 37 total selections).

       During his time as the Broncos’ general manager, Elway has shown the ability to build uniquely different championship teams. He was architect of the highest-scoring offense in NFL history (606 pts.) for Denver’s Super Bowl XLVIII appearance in 2013 before assembling the league’s No. 1-ranked defense (283.1 ypg.) two years later to help the Broncos win Super Bowl 50.

       With the Broncos’ 24-10 win against Carolina in Super Bowl 50, Elway became the first individual to start at quarterback for a Super Bowl winner (Super Bowl XXXII & XXXIII in 199-98) and return as a general manager to win another. He was tabbed as 2015 Executive of the Year by multiple outlets, including (John Clayton).  

       In addition to acquiring NFL All-Decade players Von Miller and Chris Harris well as numerous other Pro Bowlers through the NFL Draft and college free agency, Elway has been among the league’s most successful GMs in veteran free agency. He signed arguably the biggest free agent in NFL history in March 2012 in quarterback Peyton Manning, who went on to earn 2012 NFL Comeback Player of the Year and 2013 NFL Most Valuable Player honors.

       Elway in 2014 became only the second general manager in NFL history to sign four players—Emmanuel Sanders, AqibTalib,T.J. Ward and DeMarcus Ware—who made the Pro Bowl in their first year with a new team.

       Elway’s recent rookie classes have infused the Broncos with young talent, and the team’s roster this year was the sixth-youngest in the NFL (average of 26 years, 60+days). No team has had more All-Rookie selections than the Broncos over the last two years with two All-Rookie picks each season (Pro Bowlers RB Phillip Lindsay & OLB Bradley Chubb, 2018; TE Noah Fant & G Dalton Risner, 2019).

       Other key players from Elway’s recent drafts include All-Pro/Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons(2016 class), Pro Football Focus’ 2020 No. 1-ranked left tackle Garett Bolles(2017 class) and Pro Bowl wide receiver Courtland Sutton(2018 class).

       Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2004 after a magnificent 16-year career as the Broncos’ quarterback from 1983-98, Elway led the Broncos to five Super Bowl appearances and two World Championships as a player. In his 26 seasons with the franchise—16 as a player and 10 as an executive—the Broncos have more Super Bowl appearances (7) than losing seasons (6). 

       Elway is one of only four individuals in major North American sports history to be a Hall of Famer while also winning championships as both a player and lead personnel executive. He joins Jerry West (Lakers), Joe Dumars (Pistons) and Serge Savard(Canadiens) with this distinction.