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With Sanders on block, here are GM John Elway's 9 most notable trades

Not including draft day trades up and down the board, Elway's best were deals involved Tim Tebow and Brandon McManus.
Credit: AP images

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Where have you gone, Jeremy Jarmon?

The former defensive lineman was the first player John Elway ever acquired via trade. Elway became the Broncos’ general manager on January 5, 2011, but he had to wait six months until after the NFL lockout to make roster moves.

When a new collective bargaining agreement between owners and players was reached on July 25, 2011, Elway made his first trade two days later, sending receiver Jabar Gaffney, a teacher’s pet of the deposed Josh McDaniels, to Washington in exchange for Jarmon, a third-year player from Kentucky who played in 12 games in his first two NFL seasons.

Alas, the Broncos cut Jarmon six weeks later as Elway set his first 53-man roster. Jarmon never caught on in the NFL again but he is apparently doing quite well as an orthopedic surgical nurse in Lexington, Ky., according to his LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

RELATED: Denver Broncos expected to trade Emmanuel Sanders

Otherwise, it took a few years before Elway started earning his Trader John moniker. Even with the NFL pushing the trading deadline back from the Tuesday after week 6 to Tuesday after week 8 starting in 2012, the NFL moved slowly in shedding its No Trade League reputation.

It wasn’t until 2018 that Elway, and the league, began to view trades as a legitimate transaction.

Elway is currently trying to move veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders prior to next Tuesday’s trade deadline and teams also figure to express interest in Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr.

RELATED: Did Chris Harris Jr., Emmanuel Sanders play their last home game for Broncos?

Not including his draft pick swaps – which are more numbers on a board than faces of players – here are the 9 most significant trades Elway has made since he became the Broncos’ GM:

1. March 21, 2012: Traded quarterback Tim Tebow and a 7th-round draft pick to the New York Jets for a fourth-and sixth-round draft pick.

One day after introducing Peyton Manning as the Broncos’ new quarterback, Elway lost some popularity with a segment of Broncos’ fans by trading away Tebow, who in unorthodox fashion led the team to the AFC West Division title and first-round playoff win.

It took five days for the Jets and Broncos to sort out the remaining $5 million signing bonus on Tebow’s rookie contract.

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow takes the field against the Houston Texans during an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010, in Denver. The Broncos beat the Texans 24-23. (AP Photo/ Jack Dempsey )

The Broncos wasted the fourth-round pick on center Philip Blake, but used the sixth-round selection on linebacker Danny Trevathan – one of Elway’s best-ever late-round selections.

The Jets traded their seventh-round pick to the Seahawks, who took defensive end Greg Scruggs.

2. August 26, 2014: Acquired Brandon McManus from Giants for a conditional 7th-round pick.

Funny how it works. A case can be made this might be the best trade Elway has made. McManus was initially acquired as a temporary replacement until Matt Prater, the NFL’s best kicker in 2013, served his four-game suspension for alcohol-related reasons.

The condition of the 7th-round pick was McManus remain on the team after Prater served his suspension. Surprisingly, the Broncos released Prater after his suspension.

Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus (8) warms up prior to an NFL preseason football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

McManus struggled midway through the season and was cut after game 11 in favor of Connor Barth, only to return two weeks later to handle kickoff duties. McManus regained his kicking job in 2015, went 10 for 10 on field goals in the team’s Super Bowl 50 postseason run, and has been their kicker ever since.

The Giants wound up trading away their seventh-round pick.

3. Trade deadline, 2015: Acquired tight end Vernon Davis and a 7th-round pick from 49ers in exchange for two 6th-round picks.

One reason why Rich Scangarello is running the Broncos’ offense this season and not Gary Kubiak is because Kubiak insisted on bringing back Brian Pariani as his tight ends coach. And one reason why Elway insisted Pariani couldn’t come back was the disappointing performance of Davis during his short stay with the Broncos in 2015.

Davis was one of the league’s best tight ends during his first 9 ½ seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. He has had four more good seasons for Washington since leaving the Broncos for free agency after the 2015 season.

But during his nine games with the Broncos, Davis was a disappointment. Pariani barely played him, especially after a wide-open Davis dropped a pass from Brock Osweiler at Pittsburgh.

The Broncos used their 7th-round pick on Riley Dixon, who served as the team’s punter for two years before he was dealt to the Giants.

The 49ers took quarterback Jeff Driskel with their 6th-round pick in 2016 and defensive lineman Pita Taumoepenu in 2017, neither of whom have played much.     

4. Trading deadline, 2018: Dealt WR Demaryius Thomas and a 7th-round draft pick to Houston for 4th and 7th-round draft picks.

Let’s put Thomas in a tie with Lionel Taylor as the second-best receiver in Broncos’ history (behind Rod Smith) but he had been fading and expensive and with the Broncos 3-5 at the deadline, Elway wanted to rebuild for next year (which is this year).

The Broncos traded the 4th-round pick they received from Houston and two others to the Bengals in order to move up 10 spots in the second round to take quarterback Drew Lock.

Credit: AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith
Houston Texans wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (87) is introduced before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

The Broncos also traded the 7th-round pick they got in the D.T. deal and one other to take receiver Juwann Winfree in the 6th round.

Houston traded away the 7th rounder it got from Denver.

D.T. blew out his Achilles shortly after joining the Texans and is now with the lowly New York Jets.

5. March 13: Acquired QB Joe Flacco from Baltimore in exchange for a 4th round draft pick.

Flacco has thrown the ball well when he’s had time. But his immobility has been an issue behind an offensive line that hasn’t always given him time.

The Ravens used their 4th-round pick on running back Justice Hill, who has played sparingly as a rookie.

6. March 29, 2018: Acquired Su’a Cravens from Washington in exchange for 163- pick in 5th-round.

The teams also swapped fourth- and fifth-round picks, with the Broncos moving back four spots in the fourth and seven spots in the fifth. Add it up and the Broncos gave up a pick worth either the last selection of the 4rth round/first pick in the 5th for a safety who was hurt and benched in 2018 and cut before the setting of 53-man roster this year.

Washington used their No. 163 draft pick on nose tackle Tim Settle, who is now a rotational player.

7. March 15, 2019: Traded CB Aqib Talib to the Rams for a 5th-round pick

Talib was great for the Broncos but he had worn out his welcome. He has landed on injured reserve each of his two seasons with the Rams.

The Broncos traded their 5th-round pick back to the Rams in exchange for two 6th-round selections that turned out to be guard Sam Jones and linebacker Keishawn Bierria, neither of whom is with the Broncos.

8. April 10, 2016: Traded LT Ryan Clady and a 7th-round pick to the Jets for a 5th-round pick

Clady was the second-best left tackle in Broncos history (after Gary Zimmerman) but he was diminished by injuries and was dealt after not accepting a massive pay cut.

The Broncos wound up dealing that fifth-round pick to Tennessee in exchange for two later-round picks -- which turned out to be fullback Andy Janovich in the sixth round of the 2016 draft and running back De’Angelo Henderson in the sixth round of the 2017 draft.

9. July 27, 2011: Broncos traded WR Jabar Gaffney to Washington for defensive tackle Jeremy Jarmon.

Notable because it was Elway’s first trade.


  • March 13, 2019: Traded QB Case Keenum and a 7th round pick in 2020 to Washington in exchange for a 6th round pick in 2020.

  • April 20, 2018: Traded punter Riley Dixon to Giants for a conditional 7th-round pick. (The Giants got the pick as Dixon made their team, but they then traded the 7th-round pick).

  • March 23, 2018: Acquired RT Jared Veldheer from Arizona in exchange for a 6th-round pick.

  • March 19, 2018: Traded QB Trevor Siemian and 7th-round pick to the Vikings in exchange for 5th-round pick in 2019 (which turned out to be linebacker Justin Hollins).

  • October 25, 2016: Acquired TE A.J. Derby from New England for a 5th-round pick (New England traded the pick).

  • March 11, 2016: Acquired QB Mark Sanchez from Eagles for a conditional 7th-round pick (condition not met as Sanchez didn’t make team).

  • August 31, 2015: Traded OT Chris Clark to Houston for draft pick.

  • August 21, 2013: Acquired guard John Moffitt from Seattle in exchange for DT Sealver Siliga.

  • May 23, 2012: Acquired FB Chris Gronkowski from Colts in exchange for CB Cassius Vaughn.