ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos prepare to begin their search for a general manager, both President/CEO Joe Ellis and Head Coach Vic Fangio stressed that the team's new GM would have clear responsibility over the 53-man roster.
And while Fangio is "thrilled" President of Football Operations John Elway will remain available to share this perspective and advice, Ellis was clear that he would not overshadow the future GM.
"I've had a lot of discussions with John Elway over these 10 years about where our organization stands and how we're performing, and John's got a really good grasp of where we stand from a 50,000-foot level, and that will continue," Ellis said. "I know that he won't meddle, and he won't get in the way. He's made it very clear to you, he'll make it very clear to every candidate [that] the responsibility of the 53-man roster and picking the players and being the general manager and all of the decisions that come with that will be that person that we choose."
Ellis said he's unsure whether Elway will remain in the newly defined role beyond 2021, but he's certain that Elway will always remain a key figure for the organization.
"I'm looking at this very short-term right now, and I haven't thought much past that," Ellis said. "I know John will always be a part of the Denver Broncos. He has spent his whole life here since the day he left Stanford, and this community — I shouldn't speak for him — but I know this community means a lot to him. I know the Broncos mean a lot to him. He will always be a Denver Bronco and he will always want to be a part of it in some form or fashion. I don't know what that is today. I don't think John really knows what it is today. We'll talk through that, but for now our eyes are laser focused on bringing in the right general manager and turn a corner and go in a new direction in some respects that will help us get better."
As Ellis, Elway and Fangio look for a GM that can help the team make those improvements, they'll need someone whose skill set goes beyond simply picking players.
"It's a lot of things. It's not just evaluating players; it's managing a staff, it's setting the structure and a plan in place organizationally that the coach adheres to," Ellis said. "I think one thing that's very important is player evaluation and doing that in concert with the coach so that the coach and the general manager have an understanding about what kind of players the coach needs [and] the team needs to be successful. From the first player on the roster to the 53rd player on the roster, all of those decisions are important, and I know John is looking for that, and I will be as well during this process. That's a critical component to be able to work with and understand what Vic needs — the players that Vic needs to be successful is a better way of putting it, I think — and that more than anything is critical."
Fangio said he believes coaches and general managers working together in player and roster evaluation has become more common in recent years, and he expects that to continue as the new GM is "in charge" of free agency, the draft, the salary cap and other roster matters.
"We've had a role in [personnel decisions] here the last two years," Fangio said. "I think that will depend upon who we hire and how they envision running the evaluation process. But in this day and age with the teams changing so much even year to year — even the really good teams to teams not with the good records — it behooves you to have the coaches involved so there's a vision and a consensus of how the player fits."
Fangio said he'll be involved in the search process, even if he doesn't make the "ultimate decision" on who to hire. He'll make his strong feelings known, and he said Tuesday he believes a successful GM will remain resolute in their vision.
"The guys that have a vision of what the team should look like in conjunction with the coaching staff and never veering from that vision," said Fangio of what he's seen from successful GMs. "It's always easy and sexy sometimes to veer away from what you think is your ultimate blueprint for a team and sometimes you got to resist that. Then by the same token, maybe there is a chance or two that you might be able to take, but you have to be educated and they have to be good chances that everybody's on board with."
That doesn't mean, of course, that there will be not some creative friction between Fangio and the new general manager.
"I don't think you're ever going to find, and it's never been anywhere I've been, even where it's been successful, that you're going to find two people that agree on everything all the time," Fangio said. "Just as long as there's good conversation, a healthy hashing it out and coming to a decision for the Denver Broncos that we're all on board with is the important thing."
The Broncos will look for a candidate that can fulfill all those qualifications and roles — and Ellis believes whoever chooses to accept the position will be positioned for success.
"I think this is an attractive job and I believe this is a good place to work," Ellis said. "I believe people want to work here. There are only 32 GM jobs. I feel good about our organization, the people that work here, how we conduct ourselves. I recognize we haven't won. I recognize that there are questions about ownership.
"But if you're a candidate that wants to succeed and wants to be great and do great things, you're going to take a job and this is going to be a place where you can succeed because we will give you the resources."