The Denver Broncos and John Elway have reached an agreement for the two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback to join the team's front office this week as an executive vice president, team sources have told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
"John's intelligence, his leadership, business savvy, his knowledge of the game, and competitive fire -- plus the respect that everyone in this building will have for him -- will make us better right away," Joe Ellis, the Broncos' chief operating officer, told The Denver Post of owner Pat Bowlen's sentiments, without confirming Elway's hire.
One of Elway's first orders of business as a Broncos executive will be to discuss Denver's head-coach opening with Stanford's Jim Harbaugh, league sources told Schefter.
A former Stanford star, Elway is serving as an honorary captain for the Cardinal on Monday night at the Discover Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech.
The Broncos were expected to hold a news conference midweek to announce Elway's hiring as VP of football operations, according to The Denver Post.
Speaking on his radio talk show in Denver on Friday, Elway, who once ran Denver's Arena Football League team and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004, said there were still contractual points to be settled, and that he still loved "the game of football."
"That's what I'm excited about," Elway said on Denver's 87.7 FM The Ticket, according to the Denver newspaper. "The game is something that's in my blood. It's been there forever. I got involved in the Arena League because I wanted to be close to football and learn that front-office side. It was a great learning experience for me. It got me a chance to be close to the game, even though it was obviously a very different game at a different level.
"The competitive side of it is definitely the lure."
The Broncos first approached Elway about a front-office role early last month, before Denver fired coach Josh McDaniels. General manager Brian Xanders will fall under Elway's oversight.
"He has true leadership skills, mental toughness. I can tell that," Xanders told the newspaper. "And he's going to hold everybody accountable. I think it's a great opportunity for him to oversee the whole football operations of the Denver Broncos, because he knows the expectations of the fans and the organization. And he's going to try and lead us there."
Elway has been inching his way into the position since last offseason, when he signed a five-year consulting/marketing deal with the Broncos (4-12), league sources have told Schefter.
"I've been around John a long time, and there's nothing he can't do," Bubby Brister, Elway's backup quarterback in their championship seasons of 1997-98, told The Post. "They couldn't have picked a better person. He can evaluate. He knows football, he knows people. He's been in the business world and knows that. I felt like when he got out of football, he should have gone right back in there. He could have helped Mike [Shanahan]. Heck, he is the Denver Broncos. He can handle it."
Elway will rejoin a franchise that needs a major makeover.
The Broncos have won just one playoff game since Elway retired in 1999 following his second straight Super Bowl title and haven't reached the postseason in five years.
"You know he has the experience of being a football player for one, and being a Bronco for two," safety Renaldo Hill said. "He's just knowledgeable of the game. Anytime you have all of that right here in the city of Denver, I don't think you could ask for anything better than that. You know he's going to work his butt off because he put so much into this team when he was here. It's not going to change even though he's upstairs."
Rookie cornerback Perrish Cox said he thinks Elway can still work his magic even at age 50.
"He's a great dude, gives great speeches, gives great motivation. Everything that comes from him is positive," Cox said. "He can help in all kinds of ways."
Including repairing the team's tarnished image.
"I think it will be a good situation to have that energy, that knowledge of what it takes to build a team from the ground up," receiver Brandon Lloyd said. "Growing up in Kansas City, I know all about John Elway and what he accomplished on the field. And his aura and the level of respect that current players have and should have for a legend, it should carry over."
Elway's first order of business will be to search for a coach. First in line for an interview will be Eric Studesville, who was promoted to interim coach from running backs coach when McDaniels was fired Dec. 6 and went 1-3.
The Broncos acknowledged upon McDaniels' firing that they had given him too much power too soon when they hired him away from Bill Belichick's staff in New England and made him the head coach and de facto general manager with final say on all personnel matters -- two jobs the then-32-year-old never had before.
McDaniels traded away Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler and Peyton Hillis, and failed to use any of his 19 draft picks on an inside linebacker or defensive tackle. The Broncos ranked among the lowest in the league in every defensive category.
The Broncos have just a half-dozen picks in April's draft after McDaniels traded away a bevy of picks over his 22-month stint, some of them to obtain former Patriots Russ Hochstein, Laurence Maroney and LeKevin Smith, players who were past their prime.
The Broncos have just a half dozen picks in April's draft, although their loss Sunday to San Diego was their 12th, securing the No. 2 overall pick.
"You think Broncos and you think Elway and Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey and Terrell Davis," receiver Eddie Royal said. "That name is the first name you think about and he put his heart and soul into this organization, so it's great that he's coming back. And he's going to help us out. You know that he's a winner. You know that he knows the game. And he's been to Super Bowls, so he knows what it takes."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.