All in.

It’s a phrase that’s being tossed around this morning in Denver like the ol’ pigskin itself. All in – as in, the John Elway and his Denver Broncos have shoved all their chips to the middle of the table. No bluffing, no hedging, no fooling around; the Broncos are all in.

Yesterday, Elway solidified this notion when he went out and traded for Vernon Davis, an athletic tight end than run, catch and block. Davis is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but he’s easily got enough in the tank to help the Broncos compete for a Super Bowl right now.

Oddly – or perhaps not – the move comes on the heels of an enormous win over the Green Bay Packers. But of equal importance to the victory itself, is the fact that it was highlighted by fantastic play at the tight end position. Owen Daniels, who’d underperformed prior to Sunday’s game, hauled in three catches for 44 yards. Virgil Green, who had barely factored in this season, caught three balls for 61 yards. The tight end duo combined for 105 yards receiving, the Broncos offense looked fantastic and Elway took note.

One can only imagine, but surely Elway sat high atop Sports Authority Field and thought, “Hmm… I wonder how good this offense could be if we had that kind of productivity out of the tight end every week?”

Then, he did what he’s done repeatedly after the Broncos lost Super Bowl XLVIII – he went shopping. And this morning, Vernon Davis is on the Super Bowl contending Denver Broncos.

The move is bold, yet hardly risky (as I penned two weeks ago). Davis not only fits neatly into the Broncos offense, but he slides into the salary cap well, too. With the addition of their new tight end, the Broncos have just over $5 million in cap space remaining, edging ever closer to being completely “efficient” with their expenditures.

The signing of Davis is just another move that indicates Elway’s sense of urgency while building a champion – there is no “next year,” or so it would seem. It’s a philosophy that Elway knows well; after all, it’s the same one that helped him finally win Super Bowl ring of his own.

The similarities – at least in terms of how the teams are constructed – are eerily similar. Sure, these Broncos don’t have a superstar running back who was drafted by the organization and developed into a league MVP, but they do have a superstar wide receiver who fits that same mold. And everyone knows the story line of the aging quarterback, who, if only he could just get a little help…

But outside of that, “those” Broncos (the ’97 and ’98 teams) and “these” Broncos (let’s call them 2013 to now) have also been tinkered with in similar fashion. Anchored by Hall of Fame quarterbacks who couldn’t do it all by themselves, both teams were built the same way – the gaps were filled with intent and urgency.

Examine some of the key acquisitions on the “those” Broncos:

Bill Romanowski (LLB) – A veteran piece that came to Denver in 1996 by way of San Francisco and then Philadelphia, “Romo” gave the Broncos an edge (and he knew how to win from his days as a 49er) and gave a linebacking crew that featured a young and talented John Mobley some much-needed experience.

Darrien Gordon (CB/PR) – Inked prior to the 1997 season, Gordon provided a solid cornerback opposite Ray Crockett (who was added in ’94) and a special teams spark.

Alfred Williams (DE) – An outside linebacker who ultimately played defensive end for the Broncos, Williams came to Denver in 1996 and turned in a first-team All-Pro performance. He was a great player who had played alongside mediocre talent before arriving in Denver.

Neil Smith (DE) – Opposite Williams, Smith, who’d terrorized Elway his entire career with Kansas City, immensely improved the Broncos pass rush and provided veteran leadership when he switched allegiances in 1997.

Keith Traylor (DT) – A solid but not flashy veteran, Traylor came over with Smith prior to the 1997 season and plugged the middle for the Broncos defense.

Rod Smith (WR) – Believe it or not, Smith had only started two games for the Broncos prior to the ’97 season. He was an undrafted free agent who became a key piece of the puzzle. One might consider his modern equivalents to be Chris Harris Jr. or C.J. Anderson.

Ed McCaffrey (WR) – Always a fan favorite, “Eddie Mac” came to Denver in 1995 by way of New York then San Francisco. Shanahan, who was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers, brought McCaffrey – who played behind Jerry Rice and John Taylor – with him to Denver; the rest is history.

Howard Griffith (FB) – For as much credit as Terrell Davis gets for being the key to the Broncos offense (and he was), it could be argued that Griffith should get close to, if not equal praise. A hard-nosed veteran who arrived before the 1997 season by way of Carolina, it was Griffith who blasted many-a-gaping-hole for Davis.

Mark Schlereth (LG) – “Stink” came over in 1995 after six years (and a championship) with Washington. A veteran with toughness and quickness, Schlereth was vital to the game’s best offensive line.

Gary Zimmerman (LT) – Brought to Denver in 1993 to protect Elway, Zimmerman gave it one more shot in 1997 before riding off into the sunset as a Super Bowl champion.

Tom Nalen (C) – Can Matt Paradis become the next Tom Nalen? The Broncos are hoping so. Nalen was taken with the 218th pick of the 1994 draft and became one of the greatest players in Broncos history. Paradis was drafted at No. 207 in 2014 and was handed the job as starter this summer.

Tony Jones (RT) – Arriving in 1997 by way of Cleveland/Baltimore, the Pro Bowler Jones bookended (along with Zimmerman) the line that kept an aging Elway upright and a young Davis running.

Vaughn Hebron (KR) – Landing in Denver in 1996 after a two-year stint with the Eagles, Hebron became a formidable kick returner in Denver for the next three years.

…and those are just the starters. On the ’97 Broncos, eight starters were brought to Denver from other teams in 1996 or ’97.

Elway’s current Broncos? There are about “10-and-a-half” similarly acquired key starters: Owen Daniels and now Vernon Davis, Ryan Harris, Brandon Marshall, Evan Mathis, Emmanuel Sanders, Darian Stewart, Aqib Talib, Vance Walker, T.J. Ward, and DeMarcus Ware.

Elway knows what a champion looks like and how one he knows well was built. It looks as if he’s trying to replicate the model right here and right now. He’s even doing so in an environment where the salary cap is much tougher to navigate.

Will the same model work? Can the signing of Vernon Davis be the key to his construction project? Only time will tell, but it’s clear that Elway has studied the past in his quest for a future title.