Broncos, Elway make progress toward a possible deal

Mike Florio

ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

The Broncos and G.M. John Elway may soon have a new contract in place. Unless they don’t.

Woody Paige of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports that recent communications have occurred between Elway and the team, and that a deal could be done soon.

“We’re working to get it done,” Broncos CEO and president Joe Ellis told Paige. “We’ve had some productive discussions in the last week or so and will keep talking. John’s an important part of our organization, and we want to make sure he’s here for a long time.”

While it’s possible that a deal could be done soon, a league source tells PFT that there are no guarantees. Elway has a reputation for operating on his own timeline. If for whatever reason he decides to wait, he’ll wait.

If he waits until the after the season, he would become a free agent. While that’s considered to be unlikely, it remains a possibility until a new deal is signed.

Paige suggests that Elway’s duties could expand to include the role of Chief Operating Officer. A source tells PFT that any role beyond the football operations is highly, highly unlikely. (He’s currently both the G.M. and the executive V.P. of football operations.)

As to speculation that Elway could emerge with partial ownership of the team, that won’t be easy to accomplish. Pat Bowlen’s stake of roughly 60 percent continues to be held in a trust that was devised and constructed by Mr. Bowlen before he became incapacitated by Alzheimer’s disease. The trust contemplates that, eventually, one of Mr. Bowlen’s children will be ready to assume the ownership mantle, based on the assessment of the trustees. Until then, it will be very difficult (if not impossible) to carve off any of Mr. Bowlen’s share of the team for Elway, since doing so would run counter to the terms of the trust he created.

However it plays out, Elway continues to be expected to remain with the team. If he were to leave for another team (like the Rams), he’d have to deal with an owner. In Denver, Elway essentially operates autonomously, since there currently isn’t an owner — and there may not be one before Elway decides to retire.

Finally, Paige pegs the value of the contract at anywhere between $6 million and $7 million per year. It’s too early to know whether that’s accurate. And, frankly, there may never be any way to know for sure what Elway makes, unless he or Ellis decide to disclose it.