Everything as in Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen’s checkbook and incessant desire to win. Everything as in Elway’s legacy as a Hall of Fame player. Everything as in a presumptive Hall of Famer currently at quarterback, and everything as in one of the most favorable salary-cap positions among the 2013 playoff teams.
Yes, the Broncos, still bruised in many ways from a 35-point Super Bowl loss last month, have rampaged through the opening hours of free agency with some specific goals in mind. They wanted to get nasty, wanted to have the elusive Plan "B" for when their next-level offense doesn’t have the kind of day it’s used to.
And the result has been a 24-hour defensive binge that now includes defensive end DeMarcus Ware (three years, $30 million, $20 million guaranteed); cornerback Aqib Talib (six years, $57 million, $26 million guaranteed); and safety T.J. Ward (four years, $23 million, $14 million guaranteed).
John Fox Greets DeMarcus Ware | DeMarcus Ware Greets Broncos Country
"That’s why me, Talib and Ware were brought in, three physical players. ... It’s going to help this defense, it’s going to help this team," Ward said in his first appearance at the Broncos' complex.
But Elway made Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning a promise as he recruited him in the days that followed his release from the +Indianapolis Colts in 2012. When Manning arrived at the Broncos’ complex for a visit, he was still stunned the Colts had actually released him, still reeling with all of the uncertainty in front of him.
Aqib Talib said that signing with the Broncos
gives him the best shot at reaching the top of the NFL.
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY Sports
The Broncos made history on the way to last season’s 13-3 finish, set scoring records and raced into Super Bowl XLVIII using the fastest of fast lanes. Then the +Seattle Seahawks pushed Denver down, and the Broncos simply never got up in one of the worst title-game losses of the Super Bowl era.
Manning didn’t play well, the receivers didn’t play well, the linemen didn’t block well and a defense that was the biggest question mark heading into the Super Bowl actually answered the bell until the game got out of hand.
But Elway has since talked of creating "the mindset" to win a championship, has talked of being more physical on both sides of the ball and has talked about if they saw the opportunity to sign any player the team believed could be better than the ones they had, the Broncos would do it.mindset" to win a championship, has talked of being more physical on both sides of the ball and has talked about if they saw the opportunity to sign any player the team believed could be better than the ones they had, the Broncos would do it.
|T.J. Ward meets the Denver media|
Certainly, Manning is still the centerpiece of all this -- so much so that when Talib was asked Wednesday why he chose Denver, he quickly pointed to the 37-year-old quarterback.
|Photo Courtesy: +Denver Broncos (AP)|
Elway has been a no-nonsense, grassroots executive right from the start. He grinds the video on draft prospects, he goes to the Senior Bowl, he has made the pro day rounds and he makes decisions based on the long term "because my job is to be two steps ahead."
But after three trips through the opening of free agency, he has to be considered one of the league’s best closers as well, and closers get the coffee and former Pro Bowl selections, it seems -- Manning, Louis Vasquez, +Wes Welker, Terrance Knighton, Talib, Ward and now Ware.
So it seems the Broncos really didn’t just go all-in this year. They’ve just kind of had that mindset all along.
|"I view free agency like dating, if you didn't want me to scoop them up then you should have treated them better," he was reported to have said today.|
So yeah, it's pretty much Super Bowl (victory) or bust for John Elway and Co.
The legendary QB, who is now Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Broncos, has apparently found a great way to sum up his take on free agency:
Elway, "I view free agency like dating, if you didn't want me to scoop them up then you have treated them better" #BroncosNation — Eric Weidner (@ESPNWeidner) March 12, 2014