Broncos must shake things up with these two enormous decisions

DENVER, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 20: Payton Manning looks on from the sidelines before a game between the Denver Broncos and the Las Vegas Raiders at Empower Field At Mile High on November 20, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 20: Payton Manning looks on from the sidelines before a game between the Denver Broncos and the Las Vegas Raiders at Empower Field At Mile High on November 20, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos thought they had made a league-altering move prior to the start of the 2022 season, but it has backfired in a major way.

Trading for Russell Wilson was thought to be a deal that would bring the Broncos one of the top 10, perhaps even top five quarterbacks in the NFL. Remember, fans and media personalities alike were talking about how badly the Broncos burned the Seattle Seahawks in that trade.

Now that the Seahawks are looking at a top-five selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, it sure seems to be the other way around.

The Broncos also hired a new head coach, Nathaniel Hackett, and the belief was that the team would be a contender right out of the gate. Not only were they going to end their lengthy playoff drought, but they were also going to be on a short list of legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

It just hasn’t worked out. And it’s not going to, either.

The other big news this offseason came when the Broncos went under new ownership after being purchased by a group led by former Wal-Mart chairman Rob Walton. This group is going to be responsible for some major decisions this offseason and those will fall at the desk of the team’s new CEO, Greg Penner.

Denver Broncos need to make these two major moves

In 2011, following the disastrous era that saw Josh McDaniels as the team’s head coach, then-owner Pat Bowlen called on the most recognizable face in franchise history, John Elway, to save the day.

Elway became the team’s general manager and vice president of football operations, quickly building a contender. He became one of the top executives in the league by making moves such as drafting Von Miller and signing Peyton Manning through free agency.

Now, Penner needs to go to Manning for all of the same reasons.

George Paton has done what he could as the team’s general manager, but it hasn’t worked and it’s not going to. Penner should thank him for his services and show him the door. The next call he makes needs to be to Manning.

It seems to be unanimously agreed that Manning would make a great fit in any team’s front office. He is prepared enough to be commissioner of the entire league at some point. Take a look back at his speech when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for proof of that.

You will be hard-pressed to find anyone more passionate about the game of football than Manning. He also knows the game from an X’s and O’s standpoint better than probably anyone who has ever stepped on a field.

But more than that, Manning is a born leader who knows what it takes to build a winning culture. He knows what it takes to win as a team and he has the kind of influence to make that happen.

He is also still well connected to the team and what is going on with it, similar to the way Elway was following his retirement from football.

It seems to be a no-brainer for Penner to hire Manning as the next general manager or president of football operations. Once Manning is in place, he can hire his first head coach. And the guy he should choose is one that would spark a media frenzy, but one that makes a ton of sense.

Denver Broncos, Jim Harbaugh
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – DECEMBER 03: Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines speaks to press after winning the Big Ten football championship game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 03, 2022, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Michigan Wolverines won the game 43-22 over the Purdue Boilermakers. (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) /

The Broncos should hire Jim Harbaugh as their next head coach

Jim Harbaugh’s name is going to come up in connection with an NFL head coaching vacancy as often as Bill Cowher’s used to. And currently, the Broncos don’t even have a vacancy.

But Hackett’s fate should be sealed.

It would cost a pretty penny for the Broncos, or any NFL team, to bring Harbaugh back to the pro ranks. Earlier this year, the former San Francisco 49ers head coach agreed to a five-year, $36.7 million contract extension with the University of Michigan.

Harbaugh has been successful with the Wolverines too, taking them to the College Football Playoff for the second year in a row. With a chance to win a national championship, the school is going to want to keep him at all costs.

But Harbaugh could still have serious interest in returning to the league and winning the Super Bowl at some point. But the reason he could be perfect for the Broncos is what he could probably get out of Russell Wilson.

It’s going to take a disciplined approach from an experienced coach to turn things around for Wilson, if it is even possible at this point.

Harbaugh, who played quarterback in the NFL for 15 seasons himself, knows a thing or two about coaching up quarterbacks.

In college at Stanford, he helped Andrew Luck become the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. With the 49ers, he helped turn around the career of Alex Smith while also turning Colin Kaepernick into a successful quarterback for a few seasons.

At Michigan, he has compiled a record of 75-19 behind the likes of Jake Rudock, Wilton Speight, Shea Patterson, Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy.

The Broncos need to make some major moves if they want to have a chance to turn around the disaster that has been this season. Bringing in the combination of Manning and Harbaugh would be bold, but it also makes a lot of sense.

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Let’s make it happen, Mr. Penner.