John Elway received both a contract extension and a promotion from the Denver Broncos on Wednesday.
The Denver Post's Mike Klis first reported the former quarterback-turned-executive had his old contract—which expired in a year—extinguished and was given a new four-year deal that extends through the 2017 season. The term "general manager" was also added to his title.
Gary Caldwell of the team's official site confirmed the news, quoting team president Joe Ellis:
Our organization is extremely pleased with the work John Elway has done in his three years since rejoining the Broncos. He has demonstrated great vision and leadership in his role, assembling a championship-caliber team and positioning it for sustained success.
We are very confident in the direction of the Broncos with John Elway leading our football operations.
Elway expressed his gratitude and excitement regarding the decision:
I am grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given with the Broncos. Our goal is to continue building on the culture of winning established by (Owner and CEO) Pat Bowlen, and we remain relentlessly committed to delivering a World Championship to our fans.
How would you grade this move by Denver?
Of course, giving Elway the moniker of general manager is nothing more than a formality at this point, as he has held the typical GM duties for quite some time now.
And what a job he has done in that role.
Elway, who led the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles as a player, was hired as executive vice president of football operations in January of 2011.
He hired John Fox as head coach a week later, and in the three seasons to follow, Denver has won three AFC West titles and made three postseason appearances. The first famously came with Tim Tebow under center, while the last two came after Elway was able to persuade Peyton Manning to Denver.
In 2013, Elway helped put together the most prolific offense of all time, as the Broncos made it to Super Bowl XLVIII before being easily handled by the Seattle Seahawks.
According to Klis, the Broncos—with Manning in 2012 and Louis Vasquez in 2013—are the only team in the NFL to sign All-Pro players during each of the last two free-agent periods. Throw in the depth he built on defense that helped Denver survive a slew of key injuries this past season, and Elway has been a success in every aspect of his job so far.
As Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo put it, this was an "easy decision" for the Broncos:
So Elway now under contract through 2017. Easy decision for the Broncos, as he's done a fine job and has navigated some tough terrain.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 12, 2014
But Elway's job isn't done, and he clearly knows that.
Just over a week removed from the Super Bowl, he is already working 10 to 12 hours a day in an attempt to secure another successful offseason.
He talked about the team's upcoming goals in a postseason press conference (h/t Klis):
There are some changes we've got to make and we'll make those. The goal has not changed and it will not change. We will use this as an experience that we went through, be disappointed that we didn't play better, but the bottom line is this organization and what Pat Bowlen wants from this organization — that has not changed and it will not change. The bottom line is we're going to work as hard as we worked this year, if not harder, and continue to do that with the mindset that we want to be world champions and we're going to do everything we can to get there.
The hiring of Elway was step No. 1 in turning this franchise around after a shaky stretch from 2008 through 2010. Not only has he changed the culture as a beloved fan favorite, but he has also proven to have the mind to make the right personnel decisions.
With Eric Decker and others hitting the upcoming market, and with the need to fill some holes on defense through free agency and the draft, the Broncos have plenty of work to do to return to the top of the AFC.
Fortunately, they have just the man to lead that charge for at least the next four years.