The Duke of Denver does deadlines his way.
He did it with Demaryius Thomas. He did it with Von Miller. Now, it appears he’s doing it with himself.
Broncos general manager John Elway rolls on his time. And he’s unequivocally earned that right.
All has been quiet on the franchise tag front this summer, unlike the previous two with DT and the Super Bowl 50 MVP, Miller, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a big contract decision lingering.
Perhaps, the biggest of them all.
No. 7 isn’t signed after the 2017 season – and it wasn’t supposed to take this long to fix that. At least it didn’t appear that way when Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis met with the media on Jan. 2.
“Oh yeah. That’s my plan,” Ellis said of extending Elway at the time. “That’s my plan for sure. We’ve had some early conversations dating back to October and November and December and here we are in January and we’ll continue those. I’m optimistic we’ll get something done.”
Here we are – more than nine months after the talks began (with training camp now just days away) – and Broncos Country is beginning to sweat. This feels like a make-or-break point.
To be clear: A deal doesn’t have to be done by camp, but it’d be a bad sign if it wasn’t. The NFL doesn’t like having “lame duck” executives or coaches entering a season in the final year of a deal. While Elway obviously isn’t on any sort of hot seat, it’d be bad news for his future in Denver if pen hasn’t hit paper by the “media BBQ” next Wednesday. Some view that as an unofficial deadline.
So how does this shake out?
Here are the four plausible scenarios for Elway’s future, ranked from least probable to most.
No. 4 – Elway takes an executive job with another team after the 2017 season
This is a long shot, but it can’t be ruled out.
Say Elway wants ownership in the Broncos as part of a new deal and the team’s three-person trust (which includes Ellis) can’t deliver; what’s stopping No. 7 from offering his services to another NFL owner?
The competitive itch doesn’t go away overnight for a lot of folks, and if the terms and situation were intriguing in another place, then Elway’s earned the right to take on a new challenge.
No. 3 – Elway retires into the Colorado sunset and beyond
Even if that itch still does exist, how strong can it really be?
Elway has accomplished way more than any rational Broncos fan could ever desire, bringing home two Lombardi trophies as the QB and another as the GM. Riding out on top and enjoying the next 30 years on a golf course doesn’t sound like a bad way to live.
It’s no secret Elway enjoys vacationing all over this Earth, and if that becomes his next full-time gig, the consensus should be ‘good for him.’
No. 2 – Elway gets a new deal and a stake in Broncos team ownership
The most logical reason for this contract hold up is that Elway wants more to do with the Broncos than just being the man in charge of football operations. He wants more power – specifically some ownership power.
But this is where the very unfortunate health situation with Pat Bowlen might be making things tricky. Who would make Elway a part owner? Would there need to be other investors? How much of a percentage stake is an option? These are all questions that are tough to answer without a single person who can provide clear answers.
Everyone wishes Mr. B was still involved in day-to-day operations, but unfortunately, he’s not. It makes an ownership stake a tough (but not impossible) asset for Elway to secure.
No. 1 – Elway reups with a mega-deal as one of the highest paid execs in football
Just a few days ago the great Woody Paige reported this would happen, and it’s hard not to think Paige is going to be right.
Elway’s done this for five years, and he’s done way too good of a job not to do it for another five, ten or 15 more.
He deserves to get paid as handsomely as any executive in the game, and one has to think Ellis flexes his power and figures out a way to make it work. How the logistics are executed would be fascinating to watch, but the bottom line is Broncos Country doesn’t really care how it gets done – just get it done.
John Elway is doing another deadline his way.
And with options galore, the ball (like usual), is in the Duke of Denver’s court.