In the first move of this year’s coaching cycle, the Denver Broncos are in the process of finalizing a deal to hire Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. The person required anonymity because the move has not been announced.
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The 42-year-old Hackett will assume the task of trying to help bring stability and effectiveness to an offense that has languished in recent years while plagued by inconsistent play and a revolving door at quarterback.
And now begins the speculation as to whether he can manage to bring Aaron Rodgers with him to the Mile High City.
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Hackett, whose hiring was officially announced Thursday afternoon, has spent the last three seasons as Green Bay’s offensive coordinator, and developed a strong relationship with Rodgers. Prior to 2019, Hackett spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars, helping them reach the AFC Championship game in 2017 while boasting the best rushing attack in the NFL. He also served as offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills from 2013-14.
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Hackett replaces Vic Fangio, who in three seasons as head coach directed strong defenses, but saw his teams go a combined 19-30 while the offense ranked among the worst in the league.
The Broncos have some talented pieces on offense, however, an inability to find a solution at quarterback has proved their undoing.
Since Peyton Manning led the team to victory in Super Bowl 50 six seasons ago, 11 different players have started at quarterback for Denver.
General manager George Paton last season brought in Teddy Bridgewater, hoping the veteran journeyman could serve as a viable option, however, Bridgewater’s play was up and down, and he also battled durability issues. Third-year pro Drew Locke (a second-round pick in 2019 and 13-game starter in 2020) started three games, but continued the same uneven play that he has exhibited throughout his Broncos career.
Great uncertainty looms over Rodgers and his future with the Packers. Because of the structure of his deal, he could look to depart Green Bay via trade, if he prefers that move over returning for an 18th season.
Last offseason, Denver was rumored as a team with interest in Rodgers during his standoff with Packers management. Now, the addition of Hackett only adds further intrigue while potentially increasing the Broncos’ chances of ranking among the future Hall of Famer’s top options.