Denver's search takes turns

If the Denver Broncos want to hire a top offensive coach to start the John Elway regime, the legendary quarterback might have to call an audible in his first duty as the team’s front-office leader.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey has postponed his interview with Denver until after the Falcons’ playoff run. That could be in a month if the Falcons – the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs – advance to the Super Bowl.

Mularkey will honor his Saturday interview with Cleveland because the Browns called first. Mularkey is trying to concentrate on the Falcons’ playoff run. By NFL rules, coaches from playoff teams with first-round byes can interview during the bye.

Mularkey’s decision likely won’t make Denver happy. But perhaps the Broncos will wait for him. There was talk in league circles that Mularkey was at the top of Denver’s list. Elway tweeted that he respects Mularkey's decision to hold off on the interview.

In addition to the Mularkey delay of game penalty, the Broncos might be close to losing out on Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh. Wednesday, Elway publicly said the Broncos will call Harbaugh. But Miami is heavily pursuing Harbaugh.

So, Denver might have to explore alternative routes. Other potential offensive coaching candidates include former Baltimore coach Brian Billick, Oakland offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and St. Louis offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. If Denver really wants to spend big money, it could look into Jon Gruden, but that seems to be a longshot.

Denver has an interview set with Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and is expected to talk to Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams when their season is over.