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Sunday May 16th, 2021 9:20PM

John Elway says he'll hire a GM who will report to him

By The Associated Press
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DENVER (AP) — John Elway announced a major change in the Denver Broncos’ football operations Monday, saying he’ll hire a general manager who will report to him but have final say on the draft, free agency and the roster.

Elway, who has been GM since 2011, will remain as president of football operations in 2021, the final year of his contract.

“Working in this role for the last 10 years and going back to my playing days, I’ve always tried to do everything I can to help the Broncos win and get better,” Elway said in a statement. “As part of a transition I’ve thought about for a long time, I have made the decision to step up into an elevated role and hire a general manager to lead our personnel and football staff.”

Elway engineered a dramatic turnaround of the franchise when he returned to his beloved Broncos a decade ago, building a team that reached the playoffs in each of his first five seasons and added a third Lombardi Trophy to go with the two he won in Denver during his Hall of Fame playing career.

Elway moved on from Tim Tebow after one season, luring Peyton Manning to Denver in 2012 for the second chapter of his storied career after the Colts cut their star quarterback following a series of neck fusion surgeries.

Manning led the Broncos to a 55-17 mark over his four seasons, which included two trips to the Super Bowl, a loss to Seattle in Super Bowl 48 and a win over Carolina in Super Bowl 50.

Manning retired a month later and the Broncos haven't been the same since.

Since piling onto fire trucks and parading the Lombardi Trophy through downtown Denver on Feb. 9, 2016, the Broncos have won just 32 of 80 games, posted four consecutive losing seasons for the first time in half a century and have churned through 10 starting quarterbacks (including a practice squad receiver in 2020), five offensive coordinators and three head coaches.

Head coach Vic Fangio is 12-20, just one game better than the 11-21 mark that got his predecessor, Vance Joseph, fired.

But Fangio is returning in 2021, and Elway said Fangio will have a say in who’s hired as GM, as will team president Joe Ellis.

Elway said the new GM will be “empowered to make all football decisions, working in partnership with Vic.”

“John Elway is the most important and impactful person in the history of the Denver Broncos. I have nothing but gratitude for how he accepted this challenge 10 years ago and helped us accomplish great things as an organization,” Ellis said in a statement.

Ellis, who, like Elway, contracted the coronavirus in the fall, said that in recent weeks he and Elway huddled for “very positive and honest conversations” about improving the team and about Elway’s future.

“John arrived at this decision, and I am fully supportive of him and this new structure,” Ellis added. “With all of his experience and competitive fire, I know John will be a tremendous resource for the Broncos in this role.”

Elway said he “will be there to support our GM and Vic, providing my perspective, helping with the big decisions and being a sounding board whenever needed. With all that goes into the day-to-day responsibilities of a GM and how the job has grown, this structure will set us up for success and allow me to focus on the big picture.”

“This is a great place with all the resources to win. We have a lot of good people on the football side, and I’ll be there for them in any way possible.”

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Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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