The Broncos wasted no time kick-starting their general manager search Tuesday, receiving permission from the Chicago Bears to interview assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly.
Kelly was a Broncos scout and executive from 2007-14.
The Broncos are expected to cast a wide net but are aware of needing to move quickly because Jacksonville, Detroit, Atlanta, Houston, Carolina and Washington are also searching for general managers.
John Elway told coach Vic Fangio last week about his decision to step down as general manager but remain with the team as president of football operations.
“I know it was something he was considering for a while and I’m happy John’s happy about it,” Fangio said. “John, I think, is really content with the decision and the make-up moving forward for the Broncos.”
Moving forward, Fangio will have to create a rapport with the new general manager entering a critical, make-or-break third season.
“Whoever we end up hiring now, I’m sure we’ll forge a good relationship,” Fangio said. “I’ve had experience over the years working with many different general managers. I like to think I’m easy to work with and I’m sure who we hire will be a guy that’s a consensus builder, but ultimately be the guy that makes the final decision as it relates to the roster.”
Kelly and Fangio should already have a connection from their four years together in Chicago when Kelly was an executive and Fangio the defensive coordinator. Kelly entered the NFL as a college scout for the Broncos and rose to assistant coordinator of pro/college scouting and assistant director of pro personnel. He joined the Bears in 2015 as director of pro scouting before his promotion in 2017.
Kelly’s meeting would satisfy the Rooney Rule requirement to interview at least one minority candidate, but president/CEO Joe Ellis said it is “very important” to consider multiple diversity candidates.
“We’re going to interview several Black candidates,” Ellis said. “We’re getting better at diversity as an organization, but we’re nowhere near where we need to be.”
A common question that may be asked by the candidates is Elway’s role, but Ellis squashed that as a concern.
“As far as being under the shadow of John, I don’t worry about that,” Ellis said. “I know that he won’t meddle and he won’t get in the way. He’ll make it very clear to every candidate — the responsibility of the 53-man roster and picking the players and being the general manager and all of the decisions that come with that will be that person (hired).”
Fangio said the key trait he has observed from successful general managers is a “vision of what the team should be like in conjunction with the coaching staff and never veering from that vision. It’s always easy and sexy sometimes to veer away from what you think is your ultimate blueprint for a team and sometimes you have to resist that. Then, by the same token, maybe there is a chance or two you might be able to take, but you have to be educated and they have to be good chances that everybody is on board with.”
Elway, Fangio and Ellis will conduct interviews via Zoom video conferencing, but Ellis also expects in-person visits.
“My sense is Vic and John will want to do those (final interviews) in person, which we are permitted to do,” he said. “I think it’s important to get together.”
Ellis said vice president of strategic initiatives Brittany Bowlen is involved in the search in a “periphery way.”
“I’ve asked her to do some background and research work on (potential candidates),” Ellis said. “She won’t be involved in the interview process directly on the (video) screen. Myself and some others will keep her informed and have conversations because I want her to understand the process and how it works.”
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