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'It was a no-brainer to me': OL Billy Turner returns to Denver to reunite with HC Nathaniel Hackett


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In free agency, decisions can result from any number of factors. Chief among them may be money, contract length, location, roster quality or roster fit.

But for offensive lineman Billy Turner, it came down to the simple fact that the Broncos have Nathaniel Hackett and the other 31 teams do not.

"It's special," Turner said Tuesday. "Any time you get to play for a great organization like the Denver Broncos, it's always a special thing. On top of that, [it was] being able to play for one of the better people that I've met in this industry and someone who I consider one of my great friends in this league — Coach Hackett and some of the other guys that were also in Green Bay. You can't pass up on a situation like that."

After forming that long-lasting bond in Green Bay over the previous three seasons, Turner and Hackett will continue their working relationship in Denver, after Turner signed with the Broncos on Monday.

And as good a fit as it's been for Turner on the field, their friendship — the impetus for Turner's decision — goes well beyond the football.

"I just think me and Hackett are cut from a similar cloth," Turner said Tuesday. "We were able to have conversations that aren't specifically about football. We can talk about everyday life situations. … We can also just sit there and sit in silence and enjoy that. Every day before practice when we were together the last three years in Green Bay, I would get ready for practice and tape my hands up and whatnot. He would just come over and he would sit next to me. Sometimes we would talk about things, sometimes we wouldn't.

"It was just it was one of those opportunities that we always had daily to sit there, to communicate and to learn about one another. He's just one of those bright, positive souls that I've fortunately had the great pleasure of meeting in this industry. There are a lot of people that come and go in the world of professional sports. When you're able to meet somebody that is a great person that you're able to consider a friend, you never want to pass up a situation where you have the opportunity to play for someone like that."

Turner's link to the Hackett family extends beyond just the patriarch, though. Because of his varied interests in culture, Turner has become Hackett's daughter's favorite player.

"It's cool because it's no different than the relationship I share with Nathaniel," Turner said. "We talk about a bunch of different things. It's not just football-related. That's why we're tight. Meeting his daughter Everly and talking with her and the rest of their family — everybody doesn't like me because I'm a football player. She likes me because of the other things that I do outside of football — the clothing, the art, and all these other things that she has interest in. It's [a] full-circle, 360-degree family type of thing with the Hackett [family]. They're great people. That doesn't only show through Coach Hackett and the way that he coaches the game and communicate with his players and staff and how he treats people. That's a full-circle thing with how their family operates and just how they exist in life."

Football, naturally, will be at the center of Turner's time with the Broncos, though. And after Hackett highlighted Turner's ability to play and excel at several positions across the offensive line, Turner noted that his skills in that regard have made him a better player since 2018, when he last played for the Broncos.

"I've grown in a lot of different ways," Turner said. "I think I'm a better football player now. One thing that was very similar with my time in Denver [versus] my time in Green Bay is playing different positions. It's not always the [most fun] thing to do, but given injuries and how this league works, that was something that I was able to do in Green Bay and no differently than when I was here. I think that has helped me as a player — not only understanding the game more, but also being able to focus in and hone in on some of my personal techniques a little bit more."

Sometimes, that meant going into a Wednesday or Thursday practice and having to play a different position with little notice, Turner said. But he's learned to handle that and become comfortable with it, based on whatever the team needs most at that time.

With his experience playing for Hackett, Turner also carries with him a strong understanding of the offense that Denver's new coaching staff will soon implement on the field. In a scheme that balances outside-zone run blocking with an aggressive passing attack led by quarterback Russell Wilson, Turner will be ready to compete wherever the Broncos need him.

"I understand Hackett's mindset and offensive philosophy," Turner said. "My attributes as a player are my athleticism. I'm not a bigger guy. I'm not slow, but I'm quick on my feet, I'm able to move and I'm athletic. I use that to my advantage in the run game and in the pass game. Also, knowing Russell, being another athlete himself, being able to make plays outside of the pocket, I think that's going to work to my advantage and his advantage, also, being able to stay locked up with defensive ends and defensive lineman as he rolls out of the pocket."

That familiarity with Hackett and with his offense could ultimately be key for Turner, both for his potential on the line and for his career as he moves forward.

"To be completely honest with you, at the end of the day, what it boiled down to was [this is] where I wanted to be and wanting to play for Coach Hackett," Turner said. "I like the Denver area. I liked this organization, and I had a great time while I was here for those two and a half or three years prior in my career. I personally chose to come back here because of those reasons. I would love to end my career here if that's an option for me, and I would love to end my career playing for Coach Hackett. Obviously, in this league, it's not always that simple. You don't just get to pick and choose things like that. You know what — for the time being, I had an opportunity to play for someone who I consider a great friend. It was a no-brainer to me."

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