Although he decided not to do what we saw Vance Joseph do and return to the Denver Broncos as defensive coordinator in 2023, it's possible that Vic Fangio's fingerprints could still be on the Broncos' 53-man roster when all is said and done this coming season.
Fangio is one of the most widely respected coaches in the entire NFL, and specifically, he's beloved by both Denver Broncos general manager George Paton and head coach Sean Payton. Fangio and Payton are "close", and Fangio actually had a big hand in George Paton landing the job in Denver in the first place back in 2021.
The fact that Fangio was part of that initial hiring process for the GM job speaks to how respected and valuable his opinions across all areas of the team are. Paton did ultimately fire Fangio in 2022, but I don't think it's out of the question that Fangio has given Sean Payton his recommendations on certain players on this Denver Broncos roster.
We have already seen some Vic Fangio impact on the roster, at least if you want to draw those conclusions. Fangio was effusive in his praise of a player like Kareem Jackson, who played three seasons for Fangio, and is now back for another season in Denver. Fangio and kicker Brandon McManus also notably had moments in which they butted heads, and now McManus is not with the team.
Don't be surprised if some "surprise" names end up going from being written off to being on the team. Let's look at a few names of players that Vic Fangio seemingly liked when he was in Denver who could end up in Sean Payton's good graces as a result.
Players that could crack Denver Broncos roster because of Vic Fangio
1. Kendall Hinton, WR
One player that Vic Fangio was never really shy about complimenting was wide receiver Kendall Hinton. Of course, Fangio was the head coach of the Broncos during the infamous "Kendall Hinton game" in 2020 and that display of courage on Hinton's part really endeared him to Fangio.
In the following offseason, Fangio made a note during training camp that one of the guys impressing him the most was Kendall Hinton, who had made big strides after that 2020 season. Hinton not only saw playing time as a rookie when he was called upon in an emergency situation, but he wound up playing a decent amount in 2021, what would be Fangio's final year with the team. And he did show flashes that season, in particular against the Dallas Cowboys.
I think at this point, Hinton has been somewhat written off but perhaps he's got a better chance than anyone really thinks thanks to whatever recommendation Fangio might give.