At approximately 3 p.m. MDT on Monday July 24, a collective sigh of relief was heard from the Mile High City. The best news in Denver sports had dropped: The Broncos had just agreed to a five-year contract extension with general manager John Elway.
No. 7 himself, the hero of the city’s two Super Bowls as a player and their third as an executive, isn’t going anywhere.
In an NFL offseason that has seen four general managers let go by their 2016 teams, including the GM that sat opposite of Elway in Super Bowl 50, the market for NFL GMs has never been hotter.
Elway’s contract situation had been a simmering headline for much of the 2017 offseason. While the possibility of signing Tony Romo and fixing the offensive line kept the attention of many fans and media outlets, there was always an underlying “what if” scenario that Elway could become the general manager of another NFL team.
Perhaps many didn’t want to talk about the contract negotiations (most of which were done behind closed doors) or maybe we didn’t want to even think about the unthinkable.
All of those fears and anxieties can be put to rest, as the Broncos have secured Elway’s genius for five more years. The deal, according to reports, makes Elway the highest-paid general manager in the NFL.
When looking at Elway’s performance as an NFL general manager, there are few flaws on his résumé.
The term “genius” doesn’t do justice to what Elway has brought to the Broncos as an executive. Ever since he took a job as the Broncos executive vice president of football operations, Elway has led the Broncos to the playoffs in five out of six years, winning the division title in each of those five playoff appearances.
Super Bowl appearances in 2013 and 2015, which lead to the Broncos’ third title in 2015, caps off an incredibly dominate decade for the Broncos.
Each and every offseason, Elway seems to position the team to be competitive no matter the situation or the circumstances the team faces.
In 2011, Elway inherited a 4-12 team desperate to recover from the failed Josh McDaniels coaching experiment.
After riding Tim Tebow to an 8-8 first-place finish in the AFC West and a win in the playoffs, Elway was able to talk a recovering Peyton Manning into signing with the Denver Broncos over other teams interested in his services. The result was record-setting performances that dominated the AFC West until Manning’s retirement at the conclusion of Super Bowl 50.
When the Broncos’ record-setting offense was flattened by the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, Elway matched their defensive power with free agents Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware. Since then, the Broncos have boasted a dominant defense that carried the team to their Super Bowl 50 victory.
Not only has Elway acquired elite talent during his tenure, but he has also retained it, locking up franchise-tagged players Ryan Clady, Demaryius Thomas and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller to long-term deals with the team.
Simply put, no other general manager has been able to accomplish what John Elway has since taking an executive position with the Broncos.
It’s no secret that other teams across the NFL falter from year to year, unable to gain traction in a competitive NFL market.
Elway’s competitive fire has been long respected across the NFL, as more than anything else, Elway just wants to win.
The fact of the matter is that there is not one person in the NFL that could lead the Broncos better than Elway has. The only problem with inking Elway to a five-year extension is that it took this long to do so. But for the master of crunch-time heroics, there should have been little doubt.
Longtime fans in Colorado remember Elway as the heroic player that put the Broncos squarely in the nation’s spotlight. As long as Elway was slinging passes, fans could always count on the Broncos to be in a position to win, even when things looked dire.
Now, Broncos fans can finally breathe again, knowing that the Broncos have (at least) five more years of Elway at the helm. And with that, the Broncos have (at least) five more years of being in prime position to win.