With time running out, Elway the executive put points on the board, just as he did as a player.
On Monday, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway made the biggest splash in the 2015 free agency frenzy, acquiring tight end Vernon Davis from the San Francisco 49ers the day before the Trade Deadline.
“We’re excited to add Vernon Davis to the roster,” Elway said Monday after finalizing the trade. “I think that he’s a guy that brings great experience, great speed. He is a guy that’s been a team leader for the San Francisco 49ers for a long time. He will be a great addition.
“I think what we know of Vernon and all the stuff that we’ve heard of him being a leader with the 49ers and qualities that he has as a person, I think that he’s going to fit perfectly,” Elway continued. “That was definitely something that we worked on and was important to us.”
It sounds as if Davis has evolved, matured as he’s aged. This isn’t the youngster who butted heads with then-head coach Mike Singletary in his rookie year. Davis’ leadership will be tremendous for rookie tight end, Jeff Heuerman, who was taken out of commission this preseason with a torn ACL.
“You never know,” Elway said of if this move will get his Broncos over the hump. “Obviously, with losing Heuerman, it was a tough one because we had high hopes for him this year that he was going to be a big contributor. When we lost him [Heuerman], I think there was a bit of a void there that we were trying to fill. I think we have that filled now.”
Denver sent away hardly anything — two sixth-round picks in 2016, 2017 with the 49ers’ 2017 seventh-round pick coming back — to land the two-time Pro Bowler. Davis was happy to get out of San Francisco, a losing team which has lost its way, but also just excited to soon be playing with Peyton Manning.
“I woke up this morning and my general manager called and asked if I could come in so I figured it was about the trade. He told me Denver wants me and we made it all happen,” Davis said on KKFN 104.3 FM. “All I could think about was Peyton Manning. That’s all I could think about. Not knocking any of the quarterbacks that I’ve had in the previous years — Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, those guys. Those guys were amazing, those guys were awesome, but there’s just something about Peyton Manning. I’ve always been a fan of his.”
Denver ranks 29th in total red zone touchdowns this season; the tight end spot was obviously lacking. The two tight ends who have seen the field this season for the Broncos, Owen Daniels and Virgil Green, have combined for 23 total receptions for 228 yards; Davis has 18 catches for 194 yards by himself. In Gary Kubiak’s offense, the play-action rollout pass to the tight end is a staple and an almost guaranteed touchdown in the red zone; Davis will allow that play to prosper.
Davis, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2006 draft out of Maryland, had a standout career in San Francisco. He started 136 of 139 total games and accumulated 55 touchdowns for the 49ers, including seven in the postseason, tying an NFL record for the tight end position.
The fans here in the Mile High City are ready for the Broncos of old. After the convincing win Sunday night against Green Bay and the acquisition of Davis; they might not have to wait much longer.