Broncos begin researching other potential coaching candidates

NFL: JAN 08 Chargers at Broncos
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As of Tuesday night, word around the league was that the Broncos were closing in on making a decision regarding their next head coach. Five days later, a report has emerged that they’re basically going back to square one.

Jeremy Fowler of reports that the Broncos have recently done research on other candidates, in the event that the need to expand their coaching search. One candidate, per the report, is Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka.

This isn’t normal. Three weeks after the season ended, and five weeks after the job became vacant, shouldn’t be the time to start doing more research on other candidates.

It’s unclear why the Broncos seem to be spinning their wheels. Does no one (other than interim coach Jerry Rosburg) want the job? Are they not pumping enough Wal-Mart money into the position?

Or are there too many cooks in the kitchen? Do some in the ownership group want one candidate (such as 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans), but others want someone else?

Regardless of the specific reason, the perception is that either they can’t get who they want, or they don’t know who they want.

And the process has to be frustrating for CEO Greg Penner (pictured). Although it’s being sold to multiple reporters as “due diligence,” the fact that Penner got on a plane and went to talk to Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh in person — after Harbaugh decided after a virtual interview to stay put — suggests that the Broncos wanted Harbaugh more than Harbaugh wanted the Broncos. Penner is sufficiently skilled in appearances and power dynamics to realize that it looks and feels very different if he goes to Harbaugh than if Harbaugh comes to him.

Despite the narrative they’re pushing to the media, it feels as if the Broncos pursued Harbaugh, Harbaugh said “no thanks,” the Broncos pursued him again, and Harbaugh said “no thanks” again.

There’s a good chance it comes down to money. The Denver ownership group is the richest in the league, by far. It’s possible that the top candidates (however many there may be) are expecting something more than the usual amount of lettuce before taking the job.

It’s a given, for example, that former Saints coach Sean Payton wants at least $20 million per year. How can ownership plausibly claim they can’t afford it?

Driving up the expected price is the fact that the next coach will be tasked with the challenge of trying to fix quarterback Russell Wilson. It’s basically hazard pay at this point.

Penner and the rest of the Wal-Mart moguls are getting a lesson in the hazards of owning and operating an NFL team. Big decisions need to be made, time is of the essence, and perception quickly becomes reality.

Currently, the perception is that the Broncos can’t get who they want, don’t know who they want, or some of both.

Here’s an idea. If the search is indeed languishing, take a careful look at what the Bengals defense does tonight against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, and perhaps consider hiring Cincinnati defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, even if they’d have to wait two more weeks to interview him.

33 responses to “Broncos begin researching other potential coaching candidates

  1. To those that keep saying, no one wants the job at team X for various reasons. Keep in mind there are only 32 head coaches, with 3 openings most would jump at the opportunity. Even if they signed with a talented team with picks, there is a good chance they will be fired within 2-5 years. There are no guarantees either way. But very few opportunities.

  2. I’d guess Wilson’s fall off and his new contract is the turd in the punch bowl that new coaches are staring at…

  3. The Walmart people are outside their core competency and need to fire Paton and hire a real GM and let him handle things.

  4. It’s easy to see that Sean Payton’s agent or business manager is pushing a narrative that $20+ million is needed to hire Payton. Good luck getting it, Sean. Odell Beckham’s agent or business manager kept pushing a narrative that $20+ million was needed to hire him.

    News flash: No team has to hire Sean Payton. He isn’t owed anything by society. If Payton wants $20 thousand, $20 million, or $20 billion, he can ask for it. Maybe he’ll get it, maybe he won’t. But just because his PR team claims that’s the market rate doesn’t mean that anyone has to pay it.

  5. They need to hire a coach that is good on the offensive side of the ball. The problem with the Broncos isn’t on defense, it is on offense. They have to find a way to get the most they can out of their overpaid QB. Besides, the league is trending in the direction of offense-minded head coaches.

    I don’t think the Denver job is a good job for several reasons. They are stuck with the QB they have, and ownership is too new and doesn’t have a track record other than firing a head coach before he had the chance of finishing out one season.

  6. Penner wanted to talk 1 on 1 with Harbaugh about why the Bronco job is so unappealing. Knowing Harbaugh would be completely honest.

  7. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I don’t understand the attraction of Payton or Harbaugh, especially at that kind of salary.

  8. Nobody wants the job. Russell Wilson is washed. You owe the Seahawks your top 5 pick. You’re in a division with Mahomes and Herbert. And you’re working for a GM on the hot seat.

    No thanks.

  9. I dont know, maybe its just me… but as a Broncos fan I see the obvious hire as DeMeco Ryans. Harbaugh and Payton are almost a distraction for a team that doesnt need one. Get an up and comer, build team and do it the right way. Not the big name splash, that will instantly make everyone think they are a contender when they are abosolutely not.

  10. It’s crazy to me there was little mention of Eric Bieniemy this hiring season. More often than not Doug Penderson didn’t call plays for Andy Reid either and he’s done just fine. Sean McDermott coached under Reid, John Harbaugh as well. 28.5% of playoff head coaches are from the tree of or are Andy Reid this year. That’s insane and more so that Bieniemy is being over looked.

  11. When you have QBs – you dont have a QB.
    When you have a gaggle of owners – you dont have an owner.

  12. This Bronco fan thinks they should wait until the Chiefs are done and then hire Bienemy. He knows Colorado well, and it would put a spear in the KC team.

  13. Sean Payton probably discovered the life of a TV analyst is pretty good and told the Broncos as much. And I can’t say I blame any coach for choosing TV over HC.

  14. I think a lot of this is palace intrigue that the media over blows. In 2015, after the Eagles fired Chip Kelly, there was all this drama about how no one wanted to job, and they had various candidates. Then, after they hired Doug, the knives were out for how he had no experience, etc. Same with Sirianni. So we’ll see where they end up. Claiming “no one wants the job” is laughable. It’s one of 32 positions on the planet. It’s a storied franchise with many accomplishments. While I’m not a fan of that franchise, I’ll certainly wait and see.

  15. Wilson is fixable. Maybe he’s no longer the guy who for four or five years brought the team back, usually to a victory, in every prime-time game (including the second Super Bowl, where he led a two-minute drive the length of the field that culminated in a mistimed pass). But straightened out, he remains an average-to-slightly-above-average QB with a security blanket named Jerry Jeudy. Denver should be on the plus side next year, even without a first-round pick.

  16. With the draft and salary cap capital the Broncos have dedicated to Wilson, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that most coaching candidates aren’t all that interested. Wilson shows a large decline in his skills this season, and there aren’t picks to replace him in the short term.

  17. Ryans must be going to the Texans, Harbaugh staying in MI and Payton too expensive salary and draft-capital-wise. Just cause the “big” names or the “hot” candidates aren’t hired, doesn’t mean the Broncos can’t get a decent coach. Heck, it may benefit them. That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t disfunction and a hopeless QB situation over there.

  18. If teams are waiting to talk to coordinators from today, nothing wrong with filling time checking every box. Condaleeza is close to Harbaugh they could have been talking about Shaw. She prefers Caldwell but she obviously knows Shaw and the other owners, don’t.

  19. billshistorian says:
    January 29, 2023 at 10:59 am
    Sean Payton probably discovered the life of a TV analyst is pretty good and told the Broncos as much. And I can’t say I blame any coach for choosing TV over HC.


    I hear Payton is making $10 mill a year at Fox. He’d make $20+ mill a year at Denver with the full control he wants all guaranteed for 6+ years. If Russ turns out to be unfixable, after one year they can afford the cap hit to get rid of him, and they have a 1st and 2nd round pick. Reason enough that he should probably take it.
    Maybe the Saints will lower their price. If no one takes him this year they get nothing for him at all.

  20. If your a candidate for the Denver job you want guaranteed money that makes it hard to move on from you before you get the chance to pick your own QB in the event Wilson is washed and you fail to win with him. Of course Denver would like to not be financially stuck with a HC like they already are with Wilson in the event the coach cant win with Wilson.

  21. “This isn’t normal. Three weeks after the season ended, and five weeks after the job became vacant, shouldn’t be the time to start doing more research on other candidates.”
    And yet you cry that teams should have to wait til after the super bowl to hire coaches and then say new candidates shouldn’t be coming available weeks after the season ends…

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