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John Elway steps down as Broncos' GM, will remain head of football operations

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Posted at 1:52 PM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 20:25:22-05

ENGLEWOOD — 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," said Elway. "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," added Elway. "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.

“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," said President and CEO Joe Ellis. "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).

During his time as the Broncos’ general manager, Elway 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.

In addition to acquiring NFL All-Decade players Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr. as 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.

In 2020, the Broncos failed to beat a team that made the playoffs, a reminder of the ground required to cover on the road to relevancy.

Denver owns a five-year playoff drought, tied for second-longest in the NFL. The Broncos have not had a winning season in four years, matching the longest drought since 1963-72. Broncos Country remains frustrated, jarred by the spiral from the zenith of Super Bowl 50 to the lonely echoes of the AFC West basement.

Drew Lock admitted he believes he will be "The Guy in 2021." He remains confident, a necessary trait for a leader, and points to his jump after the four-interception Raiders debacle in Las Vegas. Over the final seven games, Lock threw 11 touchdowns with five interceptions, and he ended his 11-game turnover streak on Sunday.