The Denver Broncos finished up their 2019 season with their end of the year press conferences. While the 7-9 record is nothing to hang their hats on, the way they finished the season was in stark contrast to the previous three seasons. Drew Lock guided the team to a 4-1 finish as the starting quarterback and the team finished 7-5 overall after an 0-4 start.
President of Football Operations and General Manager John Elway along with Head Coach Vic Fangio took the podium first on Monday to discuss the 2019 season and the future. Joe Ellis followed later and, of course, we had a slew of players interviewed as well.
There were a lot of things said and I’ll be sure to drop the videos to the two main pressers in here, but here were the seven main takeaways that I found from these interviews. We have covered each of these stories as full posts already, but this is a good place to discuss everything.
1. Drew Lock is the future
Broncos President of Football Operations/GM John Elway echoed that sentiment and all but confirmed that 2020 is going to be Lock’s year.
“I don’t see any options right now,” Elway said when asked if Lock would be the starter in 2020. “Obviously, he finished and did a heck of a job and won four out of five games and played well, but he still has a long way to go. He has a lot of work to do. We’re excited about where Drew is. I don’t like to show our hand, but I think it’s unrealistic to say that we’re going a different direction.”
2. John Elway plans to pick up Von Miller’s contract option in 2020
John Elway wasted no time confirming that the team intends to pick up the 2020 contract option for Von Miller. He responded to the question during the teams end of the year press conference with an immediate ‘yeah’.
That will guarantee $6 million of his $18 million payout in 2020, according to Mike Klis of 9News. He’ll count $25.625 million against the salary cap in 2020 and if the club option is picked up again in 2021 he’ll count $22.225 million against the cap that year.
3. Front office changing how they review the season
One very interesting piece of information came out of the Denver Broncos end of the year press conference that could be one of the most impactful changes the franchise has seen in quite some time. President of Football Operations/GM John Elway casually noted that they’ll wait a month before reviewing and coming to decisions on this past season.
He credited Head Coach Vic Fangio for recommending the change. The extra time will allow the emotions of the season to be removed from the equation and gives coaches a chance to full review the film.
4. Elway wants to keep Justin Simmons in Denver
John Elway confirmed what we all hoped the team would do. Safety Justin Simmons won’t be going anywhere. While he is an unrestricted free agent in 2020, the Broncos will either get a deal done before free agency or Simmons is getting that franchise tag and a long-term deal later on down the road this offseason.
“He’s a great football player, but he’s a better man,” Elway said. “What he does outside of this building and what’s done in Denver has been tremendous. Just the type of guys he is. These are the type of guys that we want on this football team.”
5. The money pie is only so big leaving some players future with the team in doubt
The Denver Broncos are projected to have around $60 million in salary cap space in 2020, but could bump that up to $70 million by cutting Joe Flacco early on and another $8 million if they part ways with the oft-injured Ron Leary. In short, the Broncos should have a fairly large chunk of cap to work with to build their 2020 roster.
However, there are a lot of roster decisions to make with players with potentially one foot out the door in free agency. They have a total of 14 unrestricted free agents this offseason. The biggest names on that list are Justin Simmons, Derek Wolfe, Shelby Harris, and Chris Harris Jr. However, they also need to decide what to do with guys like Jeremiah Attaochu, Connor McGovern, and Will Parks.
6. Elway pleased with Vic Fangio’s first year as Broncos head coach
On Monday, the Denver Broncos held their end of the year press conference and one of the questions that stood out for me was one directed at President of Football Operations/GM John Elway about Head Coach Vic Fangio’s first year as head coach.
The tl;dr version is basically that Elway felt Fangio managed the locker room well and his attention to detail helped carry the team through a tough early part of the season to a strong finish. They both seem to be on the same page and focused on continuing the build towards contention in 2020 and beyond.
7. Joe Ellis is lobbying for Broncos to play Falcons in London
One big piece of news that came from Denver Broncos President & CEO Joe Ellis during the teams end of the year press conference on Monday was the possibility of the Broncos playing in London during the 2020 regular season.
The good news is that Ellis is looking to get it as one of their road games next year and has personally asked Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank to recommend the matchup.
8. If Bowlen family can’t sort things out, the Broncos could be sold
The PB Trust’s anointed choice - Brittany Bowlen, daughter from Pat’s second marriage - rejoined the team in December to begin finishing a requirement laid out by the trust that the future owner have a minimum of five years experience working with the team and/or the NFL.
Ellis noted in his end-of-season presser earlier this week that “while he’s not going to be rushing her to any owners’ meetings,” Brittany has been getting to know the inner-workings of the Broncos and most importantly, the people in the building in her new role as vice president of strategic initiatives.
“She’s working on about four or five different projects from stadium development to the fan experience to getting some involvement with the franchise on an international level,” he said, adding that Brittany has described her role as ‘drinking from a fire hose’.
“I think that the biggest thing for her is to make sure that she came in and she earned the respect of everybody, got to know people and they got to know her,” Ellis said. “This first month she’s done a terrific job of that. I expect that to continue. She has distinguished herself as the one child that we’re looking at to possibly take over her father’s role.”