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One and Done - FFL: Week 3 | NFL: Championship

AP Source: Broncos hiring Packers OC Hackett as head coach

Thu Jan 27 7:39am ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press Thursday morning the Denver Broncos are finalizing a deal to hire Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their new head coach.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was still in the works and the team hadn't announced the hiring.

Hackett's hiring will bring immediate speculation about the Broncos trying to lure star quarterback Aaron Rodgers to Denver, perhaps along with his star receiver Devante Adams.

Rodgers said he's contemplating his future, including retirement, after the Packers' early exit from the playoffs last weekend when the top-seed was upset at home 13-10 by the San Francisco 49ers.

General manager George Paton interviewed 10 candidates to replace Vic Fangio, whom he fired after a disappointing 7-10 season, Denver's sixth consecutive without a playoff berth.

After crisscrossing the country with a team of evaluators, Paton narrowed that list to three finalists: Hackett, Cowboys defensive coordinator and former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell.

Quinn has received the most interest from teams looking for new head coaches after helping Dallas turn around its defense in 2021 and was seen as an early favorite in Denver because of his previous ties to Paton. O'Connell is seen as the next in a growing list of hires from the Sean McVay coaching tree.

In turning to Hackett, the Broncos have turned away from their focus on defensive-minded head coaches. Fangio replaced Vance Joseph, who has roots as a secondary coach, in 2019.

Fangio finished 19-30 in three seasons in Denver, his unremarkable tenure dotted with poor quarterback play, uncreative offenses under Pat Shurmur and sloppy special teams play under Tom McMahon, all of which negated a stout defense that was Fangio's calling card.

The Broncos have had 10 starting quarterbacks and no playoff appearances since Peyton Manning's retirement six years ago, and they are in the market for an upgrade at QB from oft-injured Teddy Bridgewater (7-7), who's set to become a free agent in March, and Drew Lock (0-3) this offseason.

They're also on the lookout for a new owner.

Joe Ellis, the team's outgoing president and CEO, said that once a new head coach was in place he would release details about the franchise's future in what's expected to be the most expensive team sale in U.S. sports history.

The Broncos are valued at nearly $4 billion and if sold for that much, it would surpass the record $3.35 billion that Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai paid for the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center in 2019.

The team this month cleared the final legal hurdle to a sale when a district judge ruled a right of first refusal claim stemming from late owner Pat Bowlen's purchase of the team from Edgar Kaiser in the 1980s was no longer valid.

John Elway, who is in the final months as the team's president of football operations, and Manning are expected to get involved in the bidding as minority partners of billionaires competing to win the NFL's approval to acquire the iconic franchise.

The Broncos won two Super Bowl titles in the late 1990s with Elway under center and again in 2016 with Elway in the front office and Manning at quarterback in the final game of his Hall of Fame career.

The only holdover from their last championship parade is kicker Brandon McManus. Paton traded Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller to the Rams for a pair of second-day draft picks last fall and Miller has shined in his return to the postseason. The Rams host the 49ers Sunday in the NFC championship.

The second- and third-round draft choices the Broncos received in return for Miller give Paton 11 draft picks in April, including five of the top 100, which he could either use to beef up his roster or package to acquire a quarterback such as Rodgers or the Seahawks' Russell Wilson.

Also interviewed for the Broncos head coaching vacancy were: offensive coordinators Kellen Moore of the Cowboys, Brian Callahan of the Bengals and Eric Bieniemy of the Chiefs and defensive coordinators Aaron Glenn of the Lions and Jonathan Gannon of the Eagles.

Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo and Packers QBs coach Luke Getsy also spoke with Paton about the job.

All of those who interviewed for the Broncos' vacancy are at least a decade younger than Fangio, who was 60 when he was hired as a first-time head coach in 2019, and six of them - Moore, Callahan, O'Connell, Gannon, Mayo and Getsy - are in their 30s.

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