The Broncos will face a plethora of questions this offseason, from hiring a general manager to coach Fangio's future to whether or not they'll keep Von Miller in Denver.
But above all, is the question of ownership. With Pat Bowlen's kids fighting over who should own the team and whether or not to put it up for sale, the Broncos have no clear-cut owner as the board of trustees oversee the day-to-day operations of the franchise.
While those outside of the organization believe this could hurt the Broncos in their search for a new GM, Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis was adamant Tuesday it will have no effect on the attractiveness of the position.
"I think this is an attractive job," Ellis said in a video conference. "I recognize 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 you can succeed because we will give you the resources. And I assume that won't be any different regardless of who the next owner is."
Ellis said the ownership situation should partially take care of itself this summer when Bowlen's two eldest daughters, Beth Bowlen Wallace and Amie Klemmer, and the board of trustees go to trial July 12. It was originally set for September 2020.
Bowlen Wallace and Klemmer claim their late father was lacking mental capacity when he gave the rights of Broncos ownership to the board of trustees in 2009 — Bowlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2015 and died in 2019. Meanwhile, Ellis and the board strongly believe they will "prevail" in court this summer as it's difficult to prove incapacity in Colorado.
If the board were to win, many believe Bowlen's youngest daughter, Brittany, would be chosen by the board as the Broncos' new owner. If they don't win or if not all seven of Bowlen's children agree to Brittany being the owner, the team could be put up for sale — something Ellis said won't happen until after the trial. Bowlen Wallace and Klemmer implied in a statement Dec. 2 that they would prefer for the team to be sold.
"We’re basically just focused on getting through this trial, validating the trial, which validates us to make a decision to keep it in the family and name a child or sell the team," Ellis said. "We’re not putting the cart before the horse here. This case is in front of Judge (John) Scipione and we’re ready to go to court — I wish we could have done it earlier, it would have been better for a lot of people. We’re ready to go to court in July and get it resolved and we’re confident we will prevail and the trust will stand up and we’ll be able to make a decision soon thereafter."
The NFL recently announced that it will mandate "that one person hold the minimum amount of equity in the team," set by the league. This means with Ellis and board of trustee members Rich Slivka and Mary Kelly representing the Broncos, this could become a potential issue, as they can be fined up to $2 million per year for not complying.
Ellis said he hasn't spoken directly with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about this directly, but that the board can continue to operate the Broncos through March 2022. Though Ellis, and all of Broncos Country, is hoping their ownership dilemma is over by then.
“I have, under (Goodell's) authority and the authority blessed by the finance committee, the ability to do this through March 2022, I think," Ellis said. "We are in litigation and I think other owners that I have spoken to as well as Roger recognize that is slowing things down a little bit in terms of a decision-making process. I know the league will want us to reach resolution as soon as we can.
"But the trial is going to have to happen first and it will have to verify and validate Pat’s trust and our ability to execute it.”