PALM BEACH, Fla. — Cleaning up the pastry crumbs from the past two days of NFL coaches’ breakfasts here at the NFL owners meetings …
The last time we talked to Pete Carroll, the Seahawks coach said he had, "no intention" of trading Russell Wilson. That was four weeks ago at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Here at the NFL owners meetings at The Breakers resort, there was a shift in the Pete Carroll breeze.
"Things changed," Carroll said. "There was a long period in there working it. I didn’t have the intention of wanting to trade him. But we looked at the opportunity and once we got a good look at it, there were pieces. So we got a really good deal. So we went ahead and made it."
"It took a long time to get to that, though," Carroll said. "It was a long process where I didn’t think we would do it. It was such a complicated trade to make that I thought it would be all but impossible to pull it off. It did work out and we got an opportunity we thought was too good to pass up. It made the decision for the franchise we thought was a really good one."
The Broncos gave up their first round pick (No. 9 overall) and their top second-round selection (No. 40) from this year’s draft, plus a first- and second-rounder from next year’s draft. They also filled Seattle’s immediate needs by dealing away part-time starting quarterback Drew Lock, starting tight end Noah Fant and veteran starting defensive tackle Shelby Harris.
Three players the Broncos didn’t have to trade away was their top three players from their 2021 draft – cornerback Pat Surtain II, running back Javonte Williams and guard Quinn Meinerz.
What tipped the balance in the Seahawks deciding to surrender Wilson to the Broncos was all those draft picks. Two in the first round, two in second.
"It was the combination of the elements they gave us," Carroll said. "It was a good one. There was financial issues, there was roster issues, there was the ability to be really active moving forward in the draft that was really obvious. The players that we got. All of those elements came together."
Three of the Broncos’ best young players – safety Justin Simmons, receiver Courtland Sutton and outside linebacker Bradley Chubb – have taken turns the past three years issuing the importance of beating the Chiefs leading into their AFC West matchup. Chubb and Sutton have even spoken out about seriously disliking the team from Kansas City.
It’s personal because none of those three Broncos have ever beaten Kansas City. The losing skid is 13 in a row and going on seven calendar years. The skid has gone on so long, Peyton Manning was the Broncos’ starting quarterback for loss 1.
"I always get asked that before the Denver games and I don’t, you don’t think of it that way," said Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid. "Not in the National Football League. This business is humbling. You just take it one at a time and go about your business. You start thinking like that then you get your tail kicked."
It should be more of a fair fight this season as the Broncos added Wilson while the Chiefs traded away their top home-run threat in receiver Tyreek Hill.
"Until they trade the quarterback and the head coach, I'm probably not going to worry about that too much," said Broncos general manager George Paton. "They still have a lot of really good weapons. They have one of the best coaches, one of the best quarterbacks. Obviously, they've set the standard, and we have a long way to go."
Not only is Josh McDaniels getting another chance as head coach after it didn’t work out for him with the Broncos from 2009-10, he is coming back to lead the Raiders, the Broncos’ top rival and opponent two times a year.
"I’ve learned a lot from my experience there," McDaniels said. "I have a lot of familiarity with the AFC West. I’m excited to be back in a very competitive division. Certainly they added a player in Russell Wilson that’s been a great, great player for a long time. I know the standard and expectations in Denver are to win and win a lot. And win championships. We’re going to try to do the same thing here. … It’ll be exciting to have the opportunity to coach against them and the Chiefs and the Chargers. We have a helluva division here."
Thanks to Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the rest of the AFC West has addressed its passing game this year in an effort to keep up with the six-time defending champions. The Chargers already have an elite young quarterback in Justin Herbert so they added two big pieces in stopping the pass by acquiring edge rusher Khalil Mack and cornerback J.C. Jackson.
The Broncos added Wilson and edge rusher Randy Gregory.
The Raiders added receiver Davonte Adams on one side and edge rusher Chandler Jones on the other.
Does Reid take any satisfaction in forcing the change in the overall roster construction within the division?
"I don’t," he said. "But I like that there’s going to be great competition. I love that. That’s why we’re in this thing. We’ve got all these great players coming in and I can’t wait for these games. I mean, they should be really exciting."
McDaniels took a more pragmatic view to the AFC West’s otherwise fan-appealing moves.
"None of this stuff really matters unless you can get it to work the right way when you get on the field," he said. "There’s been a lot of transactions, there’s been a lot of changes. And now there’s going to be a lot of work that needs to take place between now and September and between September and the end of the season. … Where the focus is probably going to lie for most of us coaches is not just staring at a piece of paper and feeling really good about the names that are on it but now it’s time to go to work and see what we can make of this group."
Rams coaching raid
After the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl, the Broncos raided Sean McVay’s coaching staff by hiring away defensive backs coach Ejiro Evero to become defensive coordinator, assistant special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes to become head man of special teams, and assistant defensive line coach Marcus Dixon to become the top defensive line coach.
“Really you guys take three of our best coaches,’’ McVay said at his coaches’ breakfast interview Tuesday.
"He’s got a great steadiness about him," McVay said. "He’s so smart, he’s so self-assured but he’s a great collaborator. I really enjoyed watching (L.A. defensive coordinator) Rahim (Morris) and he with their ability to work in coordination and figure out the ways for our defense to operate. He’s got such a clear vision of what he wants it to look like.
"He’s been around great coaches that he’s been able to learn from. I’m really fired up for E. I know he’s going to do such a great job. He’s somebody I’ve worked with for such a long period of time and watching the growth he’s had as a coach. He’s done a great job connecting and helping guys become better players."
"Dwayne Stukes, what a great leader, what a great command he had," McVay said. "And then Marcus Dixon, what a special story he has. Understanding guys who can stay resilient and overcome adversity. He’s such a special human being. But he is also a guy who can earn credibility with his players because he played the game, he understands it. He did such a great job learning from one of the best to ever do it in Eric Henderson. Those are three special coaches and we’re going to really miss those guys. But happy for their opportunity in Denver."
49ers player raid
The Broncos also signed away two San Francisco 49er starting defensive players in defensive tackle D.J. Jones and slot corner K’Waun Williams.
"Two guys I hate to lose, but very happy for them," 49er coach Kyle Shanahan said Tuesday. "Those two are as good of guys that we’ve had in our building and as consistent of football players as we’ve had. They’ve got two good ones."
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