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Broncos reach out to Chuck Pagano, linked to McCarthy

Seven hours after pink-slipping Vance Joseph, the Denver Broncos presumably pared down their list of replacement candidates to a handful.

9News insider Mike Klis reports the Broncos are in contact with former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and loosely interested in ex-Green Bay head man Mike McCarthy. They are the two latest names on general manager John Elway’s surprising shortlist, joining New England Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak, and Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

The Broncos already have received permission to interview Munchak and Fangio, per Klis. They’re awaiting word from the Patriots on Flores, whose meeting would satisfy the league’s Rooney Rule. Fangio cannot interview this week, by NFL rule, as his club readies for its Wild Card playoff game. Denver will not pursue former coach Mike Shanahan or current Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

Pagano, who was born in Boulder, fits the mold of Elway’s evidently ideal candidate: he’s experienced, respected and specialized. The 58-year-old spent 2018 out of football following his firing as Indianapolis Colts head coach. His six-year career coaching record in Indianapolis, including the postseason, is 56-46.

Prior to his time with the Colts, Pagano served for the Baltimore Ravens (defensive coordinator, secondary coach), North Carolina Tar Heels (DC), Oakland Raiders (secondary), Cleveland Browns (secondary), Miami Hurricanes (secondary, special teams), and several other college programs.

Pagano wouldn’t be a sexy hire by Elway, but that’s not his intention, anyway. He prefers resumes buff and contacts plentiful — and perhaps flexible enough to install Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator.

“I think if someone’s been a head coach before, it definitely helps them the second time,” Elway said in his season-ending press conference Monday. “But the guys that we’re looking at, they’ve got it all … we’re going to try to cover the whole gamut, see where we are and make the best choice from there.”

The Broncos wouldn’t need Kubiak if they tapped McCarthy, who was terminated by the Packers on Dec. 2 after 13 years with the organization. Once regarded as an offensive prodigy credited for developing Aaron Rodgers, his reputation has been tattered by consecutive losing seasons, in-game mismanagement and personality clashes between himself and star players.

Sound familiar, Broncos Country?

It doesn’t appear as if Denver is prioritizing McCarthy, however. Klis says they plan to contact him to “see where he stands, thoughts, etc.” Sounds like cursory interest unlikely to be mutual from a Super Bowl-winner who may have his pick of the NFL vacancy litter. The Cleveland Browns and New York Jets’ openings are inherently more attractive than the Broncos’. Helps to have a franchise quarterback in place.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday that it’s “unclear” which interview McCarthy would accept — if any this offseason.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if McCarthy does, in fact, say, ‘You know what, if there’s nothing perfect here, let’s just hang on a second, rest, take a deep breath and get ready for 2020,” Rapoport opined.

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