Feb 12, 2014 7:34 PM by Greg Smith
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Three seasons into John Elway's tenure as executive vice president of football operations, the Broncos returned to the Super Bowl for the first time in 15 years.
Wednesday morning, Broncos President Joe Ellis announced that Elway's contract has been extended by three more seasons -- and general manager has been added to his title.
The executive vice president of football operations/general manager will be under contract with the club through the 2017 season.
"Our organization is extremely pleased with the work John Elway has done in his three years since rejoining the Broncos," Ellis said. "He has demonstrated great vision and leadership in his role, assembling a championship-caliber team and positioning it for sustained success.
"We are very confident in the direction of the Broncos with John Elway leading our football operations."
In the three seasons since Elway was hired, the Broncos are one of just eight teams in the league to average at least 10 wins a year, one of five to make the postseason in all three years and one of only three to win back-to-back-to-back division titles.
The Broncos have posted the third-most overall wins in that span, and the three consecutive AFC West titles are a first for the franchise.
"I am grateful for the opportunity that I've been given with the Broncos," Elway said. "Our goal is to continue building on the culture of winning established by (Owner and CEO) Pat Bowlen, and we remain relentlessly committed to delivering a World Championship to our fans."
Bowlen knew as soon as he hired Elway that the Pro Football Hall of Famer was the right man to build on that culture.
"I could not be happier to have him here joining the staff of the Denver Broncos, running football operations," Bowlen said at Elway's introductory press conference. "I cannot think of a better guy to do that job than John Elway. I look forward to great things in the future. I think John will return this team to a very high level of competitiveness."
It happened quickly.
In Elway's first year on the job, the Broncos improved their record from 4-12 to 8-8, winning the AFC West in the process and earning the team's first postseason appearance since the 2005 season.
"We were coming out of a 4-12 year and then we go to 8-8 at that point, and then you get a guy like Peyton Manning," Elway said. "Now it's about trying to find all the pieces together."
In year two, Manning's presence at quarterback helped lead to a 13-3 record, a second consecutive AFC West title and the AFC's No. 1 seed entering the playoffs.
In 2013, the club repeated its 13-3 mark to once again earn the AFC's No. 1 seed -- only the third team in NFL history to accomplish that feat -- and win a third straight AFC West title. The Broncos used the home-field advantage they earned throughout the postseason to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII.
Of the 64 players on the club's active/reserve roster entering the Super Bowl, Elway acquired or re-signed 58 -- 90.6 percent -- of them.
"It's been my goal to really continue what Pat Bowlen created in the fact that people want to play here," Elway said. "So players will come here late in their career when they know they have a chance to win a world championship and they know the reputation of the Denver Broncos since Pat Bowlen has been here that it's a good place to play."
In addition to signing big-name free agents the likes of Manning, Wes Welker and guard Louis Vasquez, who in 2013 became the NFL's only free-agent signee to earn first-team All Pro honors, Elway's first order of business in his new role with the team was to hire a new head coach.
Enter Head Coach John Fox, who has since become just the fifth head coach in NFL history to win division titles in each of his first three seasons with a team.
Since his hiring, Elway has made more than 600 transactions while building Denver's roster. Following the 2012 seasons, he was recognized by coaches and executives around the league when he finished as runner-up for The Sporting News' Executive of the Year.
At his end-of-season press conference, Elway acknowledged that more transactions await this offseason, and with expectations high, shaping the roster won't be an easy task.
"There are a lot of tough decisions, but they are good decisions to have because that means you have a good football team," he said.
"Everyone says you want to win now. I say we want to win now on."
And even though the 2013 season ended with a hard loss, the Broncos won't waver from their ultimate goal.
"The farther you get away from this, the less you concentrate on just that one game, the more you look at the full season and really what we did as a football team and really as an organization. And I'll tell you what, I'm very proud of that," Elway said. "We will use this as an experience that we went through, be disappointed that we didn't play better, but the bottom line is this organization and what Pat Bowlen wants from this organization - that has not changed and it will not change.
"The bottom line is we're going to work as hard as we worked this year, if not harder, and continue to do that with the mindset as we want to be World Champions. And we're going to do everything we can to get there."