Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway is expected to become a lead executive in the Denver Broncos' front office by the end of this season, according to league sources.
"I'd be very surprised if it didn't happen," a person with direct knowledge of the situation said.
Elway is likely to join the front office in a position with broad personnel powers, working closely with COO Joe Ellis as team owner Pat Bowlen's two most trusted men.
The Broncos first approached Elway about a front-office role last week, before Denver fired its former head coach Josh McDaniels. Both sides recognize it is more important to get the deal done right than to get it done fast.
They now are trying to determine Elway's exact job title, his job responsibilities and a fair salary. But Elway wants to work in Denver's front office the way his father, Jack, once did, and the Broncos are interesting in having him help restore this franchise's credibility and respectability.
Even before they hire a new head coach, the Broncos first plan to restructure their front office, according to league sources.
Elway already is working as a consultant and adviser to Bowlen. The two men dined together this past week, the night that Denver fired McDaniels. Elway also delivered a pep speech to the team before it blew out the Chiefs in Denver. Elway now wants to help take care of Bowlen and his organization the way he did for 16 seasons when he played quarterback for Denver.
Elway has been inching his way into this position since last offseason, when he signed a five-year consulting/marketing deal with the Broncos, according to sources. It reconnected Elway with the Broncos, enabled him to spend more time around the organization, and now both sides are preparing and expecting him to take it to the next level, in which he would have a direct role in hiring Denver's next head coach.
Many of the co-workers who potentially would surround Elway already are in place. The Broncos do plan to retain general manager Brian Xanders, though his responsibilities could be altered to accommodate Elway.
Adam Schefter is ESPN's NFL Insider.