Vance Joseph did the Broncos’ pocketbook a favor Friday when he accepted an offer to become the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive coordinator.
Because Denver had offset language built into Joseph’s contract, they will receive between $2 million and $4 million in salary relief. This money, though technically a deposit, won’t be reflected on the team’s salary cap, which is controlled by the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. The CBA has no bearing on coaches’ deals, and — unlike with players — they aren’t publicly disclosed.
Joseph reportedly had about $8 million remaining on the four-year pact he signed in January 2017.
The longtime defensive assistant, coming off a one-and-done stint as Miami’s DC, went 5-11 in a brutal first season with the Broncos, lowlighted by a historic eight-game losing streak. After some hemming and hawing, Joseph was brought back for 2018, but the results were virtually the same as Denver finished 6-10, losers of their last four contests.
Team president Joe Ellis and general manager John Elway fired Joseph on Dec. 31, a day after the season finale.
“To let a coach go is always difficult, especially a guy like Vance Joseph who I enjoyed working with,” Elway said in his year-end press conference. “Ultimately, it was not good enough. We didn’t win enough games. I had a great talk with Vance this morning and I will say this about Vance: Vance is a good man and he worked his tail off. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done. We didn’t win enough football games and ultimately that’s what we have to do.”
The Broncos compiled a shortlist of five candidates to succeed Joseph, and interviewed each last week. On Wednesday, concluding mass deliberation, Elway bestowed the honor to former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, the football antithesis of Joseph.
“The game in the NFL is changing, but I believe that the things that are still about what football is all about, to me, is what Vic Fangio is all about,” Elway said. “And what is that? I believe that football is still built from the ground up. And I think Vic is built from the ground up. Now, what do I mean by that? Discipline, accountability. He holds his team to high standards, emphasizes teaching technique, fundamentals, blocking, tackling—those are all the basics of what the NFL is still about. Even though the game is changing. And the thing is, when we had a chance to sit down with Vic, all of those things I just talked about were his emphasis. And how he teaches his team, how he gets his team going in the right direction. And it starts from the ground up. Not only that, then then you get to the board and you get to the X’s and O’s on the board. There’s a lot of tremendous coaches that are great at X’s and O’s. But Vic’s background on the defensive side is unmatched.”
Joseph will function as a veteran buoy for Cardinals rookie head man Kliff Kingsbury, who’s making the leap from college. He may ease the transition by importing former Broncos defensive boss Joe Woods as a positional coach. Ex-Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is expected to take the same job with Arizona, filling Kingbury’s most pertinent staff openings.