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A closer look at which Broncos could join Steve Atwater in Canton

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Following Steve Atwater's election on Saturday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Broncos now have a healthy contingent in Canton, Ohio.

Denver has eight men represented in the Hall of Fame, and four of them have been elected since 2017.

The Broncos' momentum toward the Hall isn't likely to slow down, either. Over the coming years, Denver will gain at least one more member of the Hall of Fame and could add several.

Here's a look at a few former Broncos who could soon join pro football's elite:

QUARTERBACK PEYTON MANNING (Eligible for the Class of 2021)

Manning is a no-brainer for the Hall and seems to be as sure-fire a first-ballot Hall of Famer as any player that's ever been inducted.

During his 17-year career, he earned 14 Pro Bowl appearances, seven first-team All-Pro nods and five Most Valuable Player awards. In his four seasons in Denver, Manning was a three-time Pro Bowler, two-time first-team All-Pro, the 2012 comeback player of the year and 2013 MVP. He led the Broncos to two Super Bowls and capped his career with a Super Bowl 50 victory.

Manning would be the second Broncos quarterback to earn a spot in Canton, joining John Elway.

SAFETY JOHN LYNCH (Currently eligible)

It seems as if it's only a matter of time before Lynch earns his gold jacket. Of the 15 players in NFL history to be named a finalist for the Hall of Fame in seven consecutive years, 13 of them have been enshrined. Lynch, a two-time first-team All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowler, appears to have a strong candidacy.

Four of those Pro Bowl nods came in Denver, and he is one of just seven players in NFL history to earn at least four Pro Bowl selections with two different teams. Five of the seven are in the Hall of Fame, and Charles Woodson is not yet eligible.

The Class of 2021, though, may be difficult in which to earn a spot. Manning, Woodson and Calvin Johnson are all eligible for the first time next year.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER DEMARCUS WARE (Eligible for the Class of 2022)

Another member of the Broncos' Super Bowl 50 team, Ware could potentially be the Broncos' third first-ballot Hall of Famer in four years. Champ Bailey earned that honor in 2019, Manning will almost certainly be elected in 2021 and Ware could become the third in 2022. Ware ranks ninth on the all-time sack list with 138.5 sacks, and he's a four-time first-team All-Pro. Ware also earned nine Pro Bowl selections and was a second-team member of the NFL's 2000s All-Decade team.

Ware spent his final three seasons in Denver, where he recorded two Pro Bowl berths and won a world championship.

LINEBACKER RANDY GRADISHAR (Currently eligible)

Gradishar wasn't selected to the Centennial Slate this year, but he remains eligible to be chosen as a senior candidate in the future. If the Hall returns to its previous selection process, three seniors could be chosen every two years. Gradishar is one of 10 players with seven Pro Bowls, 20 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries. The other nine are in the Hall of Fame. As the face of the Orange Crush defense, the 1978 Defensive Player of the Year could someday earn election to the Hall. Other senior candidates — including Karl Mecklenburg and Louis Wright — could also make a push.

FORMER HEAD COACHES DAN REEVES AND MIKE SHANAHAN (Currently eligible)

Reeves was also a finalist for the Centennial slate, as the Broncos Ring of Famer led the Broncos to three Super Bowl appearances and added another Super Bowl appearance in Atlanta later in his career. Reeves won five division titles during his career, which is the highest total by any Broncos coach. He won 110 regular-season games with the Broncos and 190 total during his 23-year career. Shanahan, meanwhile, is one of 12 head coaches in NFL history to win at least two Super Bowls. Seven of those five men are in the Hall of Fame, and Bill Belichick remains active as a coach. Shanahan, Tom Flores, George Siefert and Tom Coughlin also remain outside of the Hall. With the way Shanahan's offensive system has permeated the NFL over the previous two decades, perhaps his time could be on its way.

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