ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Denver Broncos GM John Elway is hashing out a four-year contract with Gary Kubiak to become the team’s head coach, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Sunday night.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement isn’t expected to be announced until Monday with an introductory news conference Tuesday.
Kubiak replaces John Fox, who was ousted last Monday following Denver’s stunning playoff loss at home to Indianapolis. Fox was hired as the Chicago Bears’ new coach on Friday.
Elway and team president Joe Ellis met with Kubiak in Houston for several hours Sunday.
Kubiak was Elway’s backup QB from 1983-91 and Denver’s offensive coordinator from 1995-2005 under Mike Shanahan. He helped build the blueprint for the back-to-back Super Bowls the Broncos won that capped Elway’s Hall of Fame playing career.
Hall of Fame finalist and NFL Network analyst Terrell Davis, Elway’s co-pilot on those title runs in 1997 and ‘98, said “Oh, man, if it’s Kubiak, that would be great. I’d love to see him back in Denver. John Elway said at the podium the other day that he knew what it took to win a championship. Well, who else was there when he won a championship? Kubiak.”
Kubiak, who was the Ravens’ offensive coordinator this past season, went 63-66, counting the playoffs, as head coach of the Texans from 2006-13. He had a health scare during that last season in Houston and was fired by the Texans with three games left.
Elway interviewed two other candidates: Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Bengals defensive backs coach Vance Joseph. Two others, former Bills head coach Doug Marrone and Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, withdrew their names from consideration over the last few days as it became clear that Kubiak was the heavy favorite.
Kubiak takes over a team that may or may not have Peyton Manning under center in 2015. The five-time MVP is mulling his future after a promising season turned sour down the stretch and ended unexpectedly with a 24-13 loss to his former team in the AFC divisional round.
Elway asked Manning the day after the game not to make a rash decision and said he asked him to mull things over for a few weeks.
Manning pulled out of next week’s Pro Bowl because a strained right thigh hasn’t gotten much better over the last week.
Manning was one of the Broncos’ league-high 10 Pro Bowlers, only two of whom are pending free agents — Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas — whom Elway said were his top two priorities once he found a new coach.
The Broncos have a total of 17 free agents, including a dozen unrestricted ones. They figure to put the franchise tag on Demaryius Thomas if they can’t iron out a long-term contract with the star receiver.