John Elway, Vic Fangio bring in 'guys that we all liked' in first wave of free agency

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Shortly after Head Coach Vic Fangio and members of his coaching staff evaluated cornerback Kareem Jackson prior to the start of free agency, Fangio headed down the hall to talk to John Elway.

Fangio wanted to make sure he expressed his interest in the veteran defensive back, whom the Broncos agreed to terms with Wednesday as Fangio kicked off his first free-agency period as a head coach. 

“We got guys that we all liked,” Fangio said Wednesday. “I remember when we first watched Kareem Jackson, [I] walked in and told him we really liked him and he says, ‘Good, we do too.’

“Those are the kind you’re looking for, that everybody sees the same way.”

Fangio and Elway found several of those players as the new league year began and the Broncos started to put together their roster for 2019.

Denver agreed to terms with Jackson and former Dolphins right tackle Ja’Wuan James in free agency and traded for quarterback Joe Flacco on Wednesday.

“Well you never know how it’s going to play out, but we’re really excited about Ja’Wuan as well as Kareem,” Elway said. “I think that we got two good football players that we targeted and like the way they play the game, but also the type of people they are. So we think that Kareem and the [physicality] he brings to the defensive side and the athleticism Ja’Wuan has at right tackle, they’re both great fits for us.”

Those agreements only came after an evaluation process that involved both the front office and the coaching staff.

“We have to work together,” Elway said. “Coaching and personnel have to work together, because ultimately, they’ve got to like who they’re coaching and the people they have on the field. It’s important for us to all be a cohesive group there. So far, since Vic’s been here, it’s been tremendous.”

Fangio, who said evaluating a few offensive players is the only change to his normal free-agency routine, will soon get to work with the Broncos’ new additions. And there is at least one decision to be made.

Jackson, who played cornerback and safety during his final season with the Texans, doesn’t yet have a defined position.

“That’s yet to be determined,” Fangio said. “Once we get the team here and start working out — that’s one of his strong suits, he can play corner, safety, nickel — we’ll use him where we most need him or that best fits him.”

On the offensive side, Elway and Fangio see James as a player who could potentially fill a void at the right tackle position.

“Like I said, we think he’s a perfect system fit for us,” Elway said. “He’s had five great years down there in Miami, but [we] really think he can solidify that right tackle [position] and that’s our expectation.”

Added Fangio: “[He’s a] good athlete with length and size to him, and I like that he’s in the middle of his career. I think he’s got the chance to be a Bronco for a long time.”

Then, of course, there’s Flacco, who will lead the Broncos into the 2019 season.

“We had an opportunity there, and Joe’s had a great career so far,” Elway said. “We thought with what we’re going to do now offensively that he’d be a very good fit for us. So we’re excited about the opportunity to be able to get Joe here. We thought the compensation was good, so we’re excited about watching Joe and having him come here.”

Though the Broncos made the triad of big moves on Wednesday, free agency has only just begun.

There are more moves to be made, and the Broncos are likely not done adding new faces to their team.

“You kind of wait and see now,” Elway said. “As prices come down a little bit, you kind of see what’s available. Obviously we have some people that we’d still … like to sign, but we’ll just continue to work on those and see what comes of them the next week or so.”

Soon enough, Fangio could be walking back down the hall to talk with Elway about another player that has caught his eye.

And if the first wave was any indication, the interest will likely be reciprocated.

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