It seems kind of absurd that the Broncos now clearly have the best front office in the Denver pro sports realm. Think about it: a year ago this team had just finished one of the worst seasons in its history, fired its coach, and replaced him with the one head coach who managed an even WORSE 2010 campaign. Yet here we are in 2012: Denver is coming off a playoff season, and now has one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.
I think it would be premature to say that John Elway is as good of a front office man as he was quarterback, but a Super Bowl in the next 3 years will cement that. Elway inherited a mess. The McDaniels’ era sunk Denver. The team’s young elite were shipped away, replaced with aging role players, and the whole team was forced to play by a script that was too clever by half, and orchestrated by a guy that was too inexperienced as a whole. Yet here we are with the Broncos in the Super Bowl discussion for the 2012 season.
Compare the record of Elway’s front office to other Denver teams and it’s clear the Broncos are now the personnel management toast of the town.
Broncos: Denver gets Peyton Manning in a race that featured teams parking a plane at an airport in hopes of cherry-picking a meeting, floating ownership rumors as incentive, and even getting a state’s legislature to pass a pro-Manning resolution. In the end, Elway and Company won, and did it without a gimmick.
Nuggets: Recent enough, the trade of Carmelo Anthony has to be the defining move of the Nuggets front office. The team capitulated to its superstar’s demands, sweetened the pot with hometown hero Chauncey Billups, and moved on. The Nuggets hauled in some strong team talent in return, but in all likelihood, are still awaiting a new star to rise if they want to break the one-and-done playoff cycle. A desire to pursue a new star is publicly absent.
Rockies: The biggest recent transaction also involves a star leaving the team rather than joining it. Ubaldo Jimenez was dealt to Indians last year. It remains to be seen if Jimenez’s amazing first-half run in 2010 was a flash in an otherwise underwhelming career. Still, the Rockies’ rotation is noticeably more lackluster since the trade with the team turning to an aged Jamie Moyer to backfill an otherwise lackluster stable.
Avalanche: The Avs made the commitment to a youth movement. Even if a possibly-fading-yet-still-a-good-leadership-guy came available, the Avs have signaled no desire to pursue the over 25 crowd…and they’re watching the playoffs at home once again.
Seeding the Future
Broncos: Denver’s front office hit big with Von Miller in the 2011 draft. If Miller remains healthy, and productive, he’ll remain among the league’s elite defenders for some time. Perhaps more importantly, Denver also found starting talent in Orlando Franklin and Quinton Carter in the same draft, and picked up some intriguing contributors in Virgil Green and Julius Thomas. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a good chance Chris Harris is two seasons or less away from becoming a defensive starter after making the team as an unsigned free agent.
Nuggets: The Nuggets front office has made positive additions through recent drafts. Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried are high tempo threats who can make games incredibly entertaining. Despite the patchwork nature of the Nuggets personnel, the team is young, which could lead to a bright future…assuming one of the young guns becomes an all-star at some point.
Rockies: The club’s stars are young (Cargo, Tulo). The club’s icon is old (Helton). The club’s headlining additions are also old (Cuddyer, Moyer). The club’s solution for third base is young (Nelson, Pacheco). A real mixture of young and pretty old talent here. While the Rockies youth movement has paid a few exciting dividends in the past several years it appears the front office may be taking a breather…or the pipeline is turning to a trickle.
Avalanche: All youth, all the time. The addition of Gabriel Landeskog could be the most promising for the Avs. Fellow youth-stars-in-waiting Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene are also part of the talent crop the Avs’ front office is hoping will bloom…really, really soon.
“Cut That Meat” Spending Factor
Broncos: They had the money, and they spent the money. Pat Bowlen opened the checkbook for Peyton Manning, and while no other huge names made the Denver payroll during free agency, the Broncos weren’t afraid to go shopping for the luxury yacht on the market. If there’s any question about what the front office expects from the team in 2012, just look at the accounts payable section of the ledger. The Broncos want to win…now!
Nuggets: The good news is that the Nuggets are no longer obligated to pay Nene an absorbent amount of money to miss a quarter of the season with injuries. Also good news is that the Nuggets don’t appear to be drastically overpaying anyone on the roster (assuming Galinari pans out). The bad news is that no one on the roster warrants the mega salaries pulled in by players who make teams favorites as opposed to also-rans.
Rockies: Not the highest, not the lowest. The Rockies front office took care of its blossoming stars last year (not including Ubaldo). The payroll doesn’t scream, “we expect pennants,” but hints that there’s a payday potentially waiting for anyone who breaks through to make one possible. Still, since Rocktober 2007, the Rockies haven’t showed any inkling of waging up to keep the team in the hunt.
Avalanche: Paydays for future stars are waiting…maybe…so we hope. The Avs front office has money to spend, but has made a habit of not spending it. It’s a front office that seems convinced that the only way back to glory is through unwavering piety. Sure, it’s smart to keep money available for when your young talent becomes amazing all-stars, but with now clear idea on when that may happen the Avs at the moment appear to be doing nothing more than hoping things work out.
So…with all that said…it’s still bizarre, but yet also apparent: the Denver Broncos have to be considered the most stable, well-run pro sports organization in town. However, this is subject to change if a certain someone has a certain issue with a certain body part located between his head and his shoulders.