Denver Broncos latest rumors, reports on every coach candidate

Aug 23, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton looks on during the second half against Jacksonville Jaguars at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 23, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton looks on during the second half against Jacksonville Jaguars at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

Wishing you knew who was going to be the head coach of the Denver Broncos in 2022? I can’t say I blame you. The Broncos have been in the midst of a head coach search for over a month at this point, seeing as the team fired Nathaniel Hackett the day after a Christmas blowout in Los Angeles against the Rams.

It was an ugly way for Hackett to go, but it signaled an apparent aggressiveness from the ownership group, which had reportedly been “embarrassed” by Hackett and the product the team had been putting on the field dating back to before the London game vs. Jacksonville. Everyone assumed that the team’s pursuit of a new head coach would be rather swift. Instead, it’s been slow, deliberate, almost painfully so.

In fact, it’s been slow enough that the perception for some has become that the Broncos are missing out on their top candidates left and right. But is that really the case? Let’s take a look at where the team currently stands with the top candidates available.

Latest Denver Broncos head coach rumors and reports

DeMeco Ryans, 49ers defensive coordinator

The latest with DeMeco Ryans is simple — it could be down to the Houston Texans or Denver Broncos for his services. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network has made it seem like Ryans has essentially chosen the Texans, and we’re now just waiting on the formality of him visiting Houston and signing on the dotted line, whenever that opportunity arises. According to Mike Klis, the Broncos are still in it with Ryans, and he’s “a” top candidate for both the Broncos and Texans.

My sense? It feels like the Broncos are in 2nd place for Ryans, if he is indeed their number one pick.

Sean Payton, under contract with New Orleans Saints

Arguably the best available candidate based on experience and overall body of work, Sean Payton has made the rounds with every available job except the opening in Indianapolis. His most recent interview was with the Arizona Cardinals. He has yet to schedule interviews with any other teams and it seems like the option of returning to TV for another year and entering the coaching cycle in 2024 might be the likeliest route.

With that being said, pretty much every major reporter has stated that the Broncos are not “out” on Payton just yet. There was a report about a potential “power struggle” between one of the Broncos ownership group members and Sean Payton, but Payton himself refuted those reports.

My take: Sean Payton remains a candidate for the job, even if the Broncos are having to jump through plenty of hoops to eventually land him.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Wolverines head coach

Jim Harbaugh is out. This is not an option according to Mike Klis.

My take: This is a bummer, but the Harbaugh dream has been dead for too long now to be overly disappointed.

Jim Caldwell, free agent coach

Jim Caldwell seems like more of an option to be an assistant on someone’s staff than to actually end up as the Denver Broncos’ head coach. He can be safely ruled out at this point and you can determine what you will from the previously linked spot Mike Klis did with 104.3 in Denver.

Ejiro Evero, Denver Broncos defensive coordinator

Ejiro Evero seems like a candidate to leave the Denver Broncos in one of two different ways. He could land one of the Colts, Texans, or Cardinals’ jobs potentially, or he could leave and join someone’s staff as a defensive coordinator. At one point, it felt like Evero coming back to Denver as defensive coordinator for another year but at this point, it seems like that might be 50-50 at best.

David Shaw, former Stanford head coach

At one point in this process, David Shaw was considered a “sleeper” and it felt like he had jumped into the top three potentially. As of right now? It feels like the hype has cooled significantly on Shaw potentially coaching the Denver Broncos in 2023, although it also doesn’t feel out of the realm of possibility.

It feels like Shaw would be arguably the toughest sell to the Broncos fan base at this point.

Raheem Morris, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator

There has been very little, bordering on nothing, reported regarding Morris’ interview with the Denver Broncos. It’s probably safe, at this point, to rule him out although not completely given the fact that it feels like nobody but Jim Harbaugh has been truly “ruled out”.

Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator

Things with Dan Quinn are very interesting at the moment. He’s declared that he’s returning to Dallas for another year as the team’s defensive coordinator, but Mike Klis also said on Friday that the Broncos could still circle back with Quinn. Perhaps things there aren’t as set in stone as they seem…

Still, it feels unlikely — at best — that he will be the Broncos’ next head coach.

Jerry Rosburg, Denver Broncos interim head coach

Rosburg’s contract with the Broncos has officially expired, and he apparently expressed interest to the ownership group at his exit interview about potentially becoming the full-time head coach of the team. Rosburg obviously impressed folks at the end of the season but it feels like the best chance of him returning to the Broncos in 2023 will be as an assistant, if at all.

Mystery candidates…?

On a number of occasions now, Mike Klis has noted that there are potentially multiple “mystery” candidates that the Denver Broncos have been talking to behind the scenes. Perhaps this is the reason for some of the radio silence over the last week. Klis stated he doesn’t know the names of the candidates, but did offer that the Bengals have some good assistants (speaking of offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo) that deserve more love than they’ve been getting in this cycle.

I tend to agree with Mike on that one. Brian Callahan interviewed for the Broncos’ head coaching position last year, but ended up back with the Bengals. This year, I he’s only taken one interview that we know of (with the Colts).

Callahan is a fascinating candidate who worked with the Broncos when the team had Peyton Manning, he’s now worked with Joe Burrow for multiple years, and he once worked with Derek Carr and Matthew Stafford when he was on staff with the Raiders and Lions.

While Callahan was on the Lions’ staff coaching quarterbacks, his boss was Jim Caldwell, who has interviewed for the Denver job.

If any “mystery” candidate checks all the boxes — young, offensive coach, tons of experience with a variety of QBs, ready for HC gig — it’s Callahan.