Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady are not showing up at the glass entrance to Broncos headquarters.
Vic Fangio is the coach, and Drew Lock is the starting quarterback.
Fangio, who was Victor in five of his final six at home, is celebrating his first anniversary in Denver this week, and probably is reviewing film of the Chiefs games and viewing Lifetime Channel movies.
Lock, basking in the glow of four victories in five starts, tweeted: “Thank you Broncos Country for the warm welcome in 2019. I now understand the passion as well as the responsibility!! Happy New Year.’’
The Broncos have found their coach and their quarterback for 2020 and perhaps the entire decade. Fangio told me in February he wants to finish his career with this franchise. “Yes, 10 years would be a good number.’’ Lock said in a season exit conversation he intends to “keep taking off,’’ apparently to infinity and beyond.
John Elway also will come back as commander of football operations for a 10th season and his 26th year as a player/executive with the organization. He has endured only five losing seasons while reaching the Super Bowl seven times, twice in the past decade.
Elway has praised Vic & Drew, saying the team finally, in closing 2019, “bounced off the bottom’’ of the past three seasons (18-30). He never has uttered the word “rebuild,’’ but the Broncos have been a major reconstruction project, and Ol’ No. 7 is in the rejuvenation and renaissance phase for a return to the postseason for the franchise’s 23rd time.
The Broncos have put together major pieces, but must solve the whole puzzle.
Who’s staying, leaving and coming?
The Broncos will remain young, but more experienced. At least 30 players on the next roster, counting veterans and draft choices, will be 25 or younger. Another 18 will be 26, 27 or 28.
Only one 30something, Von Miller, is assured of being around.
Most likely players (starters in caps) staying: quarterbacks LOCK, Brandon Allen, Brett Rypien; running backs Phillip LINDSAY, Royce Freeman, Andy Janovich; wide receivers Courtland SUTTON, DaeSean HAMILTON, Tim Patrick, Diontae Spencer and Juwann Winfree; tight ends Noah FANT, Andrew Beck, Troy Fumagalli, Jake Butt; offensive linemen Dalton RISNER, Garett BOLLES, Ju’Wuan JAMES, Connor McGovern, Austin Schlottmann, Elijah Wilkinson, Jake Rodgers; defensive linemen Shelby HARRIS, Mike PURCELL, Dre’Mont Jones, DeMarcus Walker, Adam Gotsis; outside linebackers MILLER, Bradley CHUBB, Malik Reed, Justin Hollins, Jeremiah Attaochu; inside linebackers Todd DAVIS, Alexander JOHNSON, Joseph Jones, Josey Jewell, Josh Watson; cornerbacks De’Vante BUSBY, Bryce CALLAHAN, Davontae Harris, Isaac Yiadom, Duke Dawson Jr., Alijah Holder; safeties Justin SIMMONS, Kareem JACKSON, Will Parks, Trey Marshall, and kicker Brandon McManus.
These veterans are probably leaving: Joe Flacco, Ron Leary, Chris Harris Jr., Derek Wolfe, Theo Riddick, Jeff Heuerman, Devontae Booker and punter Colby Wadman.
The Broncos must re-sign Shelby Harris, Parks and Attaochu, and McGovern and Gotsis will come cheap (about $1 mil each). Not bringing back Flacco, Leary, Harris Jr. and Wolfe, the Broncos would release the Broncos from almost $40 million in salary and provide them with approximately $80 million for signing their own free agents, pay raises and three significant unrestricted additions.
Free agents, currently with reasonable or low salaries, the Broncos should sign are Kansas City defensive end Chris Jones, Washington offensive guard Brandon Scherff and Dallas cornerback Byron Jones.
Draft choices coming: The Broncos have five picks in the top 100 (15, 46, 77, 83, 95), two selections in fourth and one each in the sixth and last rounds. They could be awarded compensatory choices at the end of the fifth and seventh rounds. Although self-proclaimed experts here and nationally are pushing the Broncos toward Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III, Elway never has drafted a Crimson Tide player in any round and never explained why.
I’ve got the horse right here; his name is Jalen Reagor, out of TCU. He turned 21 on New Year’s Day and may flash-dash a sub-4.3 at the NFL combine. He can catch (1,016 yards, nine touchdowns), handle jet sweeps and reverses; and return punts and kickoffs. He will be available. Think Tyreek Hill without luggage.
Then, the Broncos can choose a cornerback, two offensive linemen, another defensive lineman, a running back, an inside linebacker, a safety and a punter.
Elway, Fangio and especially Lock will be thrilled with Reagor, The Choice 1.