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Elway discusses addition of Gordon, departures of Wolfe, Harris

Broncos prepare for potential draft from home
Posted at 11:42 AM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 14:08:02-04

DENVER -- The Broncos harbored no delusions of adequacy. They won four of their final five games, but spending another winter with their noses pressed up against the playoff window pane made change necessary.

So the offseason became a blizzard of activity: the acquisitions of cornerback A.J. Bouye and defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, and the signings of running back Melvin Gordon, right guard Graham Glasgow, defensive end Shelby Harris, tight end Nick Vannett and punter Tom Martin.

Pretty good. But winning the offseason matters little without results when it counts.

"We were able to upgrade the talent we have," general manager John Elway said on a conference call Tuesday. "The last three years have been disappointing even though we finished strong last year. We want to get back to Bronco football, competing for playoff spots and championships."

For the first time with the media, Elway addressed Gordon's arrival. Follow the money -- $13.5 million guaranteed -- and it takes Gordon, a two-time Pro Bowler, to the top of the depth chart ahead of one-time Pro Bowler Phillip Lindsay. What does that mean going forward?

"The discussion we had (with coach Vic Fangio) is that we thought it was important to have two really good backs. We thought it was a good combination with Phillip. There’s always concern and issues especially with two years Phillip has had," Elway said. "I will talk to his agent and see what he can do later on (regarding a contract extension after the draft). But there's no guarantee."

Lindsay's agent, Mike McCartney, spoke with Elway about the situation recently. And while there has been rampant speculation, a source close to the situation said Lindsay never demanded a trade. He told the Broncos he is ready to compete for the top spot, refusing to concede anything, a mantra that turned him from an undrafted player to a Broncos fan favorite.

"We talked about it awhile back. We both shared the same view," said coach Vic Fangio on conversations with Elway on pursuing Gordon. "I have talked to Phillip yesterday. Phillip is a competitor. He’s not going to just give away his job, his carries. It’s pretty common to have two backs. ... I just think (Gordon's) a good football player, and anytime you can add a good football player, it's always a good thing."

Defensively, the Broncos underwent a significant nip and tuck. Bouye and Casey, a five-time Pro Bowler, bring talent and experience. Casey could become a leader quickly, not unlike DeMarcus Ware six years ago. Gone are cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and defensive end Derek Wolfe, both of whom who will be candidates for the club's Ring of Fame. Fangio and Elway discussed the changes.

"(Bouye and Casey) are two good football players we are happy to have. Anything we ask them to do with us, they should be capable to do from mental standpoint. These guys can fit in a multitude of schemes," Fangio said.

Added Elway, "It helps having been with Vic for a year and understanding what he likes. It’s always part of those factors (when putting a roster together). With Chris and Derek, we appreciate everything they have done. It's always the tough part of the business -- 98 percent of the time, It’s not a willing departure. Those two guys have been tremendous. We appreciate everything they did for the Broncos."

The Broncos have shifted their focus to the draft -- a source said they are not likely to pursue released veteran cornerback Dre Kilpatrick.

The draft will look different than it ever has before. Uncertainty surrounds the selection process, which remains on schedule for April 23-25. If team facilities remain closed, executives will navigate from home. The Broncos believe they are in a good spot in terms of preparation, citing Fangio's decision to keep coaches away from the combine to study college players.

"As far as reports for this year’s draft, those are all in. Having coaches stay home from the combine and spend one full week on draft was beneficial. We will hold interviews either by telephone (FaceTime) or Zoom," Elway said. "With the draft staying where it is, it’s fine. We’re prepared for everything. That’s one thing we don’t know exactly what’s ahead of us."

Fangio is a football lifer. So he has embraced the challenge of learning as much about the prospects without the traditional college pro days and top 30 visits.

"Ninety percent will be based on film," Fangio said. "At (No.) 15, you’re not quite sure how the first 14 picks will go. I think we all have desires and wishes that the best player available matches our positions of need. We still have enough needs on both sides of the ball.”