Broncos make major splash, hire former HC candidate to front office

David Shaw is coming to the Broncos after all
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The Denver Broncos made a little ripple in the water when they signed defensive lineman Dondrea Tillman, one of the best defensive players in the UFL the past few seasons. They made a major splash, however, when they announced they had hired former Stanford head coach David Shaw to a Senior Personnel Executive role in the front office.

According to reports, Shaw's role will extend to both the pro and college personnel evaluations. There's no doubt that Shaw knows how to evaluate talent, a skill that has been evident for over a decade. He has not only done a tremendous job evaluating and developing talent as one of the best college football coaches in the country, but the NFL Network took notice and hired him on for work as an analyst during the NFL Draft.

Shaw has a lengthy and expansive history of coaching and evaluating talent but his most notable achievements have obviously come as a college head coach. He was the successor to Jim Harbaugh at Stanford and was named the Pac-12 coach of the year four different times. He's the only Pac-12 coach to ever do that.

The Denver Broncos interviewed David Shaw during the 2023 head coach cycle where they ultimately ended up hiring Sean Payton. Shaw hasn't been in the NFL since 2005 (Ravens WR coach) but has been looking to get back in for a couple of years now. And he's received plenty of interest, but nothing has materialized until now.

It's clear that the Broncos were rather impressed with Shaw's interview with the team and everyone kind of figured they would be. Shaw is extremely sharp and his teams have embodied toughness through the years.

Interestingly enough, there are connections all over the place for Shaw when it comes to this current Denver Broncos organization. He has ties to the Walton-Penner Ownership Group from his time at Stanford where he has a direct ties to Greg Penner, Carrie Walton Penner, and Condoleezza Rice. Not only that, but Shaw was on the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff along with Sean Payton in 1997. They go way back.

It's interesting that this move is being reported as being made by general manager George Paton. It's clear that the Broncos have been intentional about making additions all over the organization to improve a team that has been one of the worst in the league since Super Bowl 50, but there had been rumors floating around that George Paton could be fired at some point this offseason. Those rumors were obviously overblown and false.

Paton has carved out a good working relationship with head coach Sean Payton, and was obviously heavily involved in the head coach hiring process last year when the team interviewed Shaw up close. The primary reason to be really excited about this move is that the Broncos were obviously very encouraged by whatever plan Shaw had put together in his pitch to be the next head coach of the team.

What was his vision for the roster? The quarterback position? How did he evaluate last year's roster? What would he have done differently? What approach would he have taken to getting a team that was 5-12 in 2022 and without a first-round draft pick back on track?

He likely answered a ton of major questions like that and much more that impressed the franchise from the top down. Who knows, maybe he was in the top three finalists for the job when all was said and done. The Broncos were obviously impressed by Shaw's understanding of how to make this team better the way the league is currently set up. They must have loved his overall vision for the team, enough to give him some significant say in personnel on both the college and pro side.

Shaw will now be one of a number of prominent voices in the Denver Broncos' overall front office brain trust.

Sean Payton has the final say over the roster. George Paton is the general manager. Darren Mougey is the assistant general manager. Kelly Klein Van Calligan is the Executive Director of Football Operations/Special Advisor to the General Manager. Cody Rager was hired this offseason from the Saints as the team's Vice President of Player Personnel, an extremely high ranking in the front office. The Broncos still have a number of other key members of the front office in positions of high ranking, so it's going to be fascinating to hear at some point how that whole operation is going to run on the day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year.

It's going to be great to see David Shaw as an official member of the Broncos' organization. He's got a great eye for talent and the Broncos will benefit from having him tremendously.