John Elway isn't done making surprising moves this offseason.
"It was tough because I have a great deal of respect for Brian as a football man but also as a person," Elway told Klis. "Even more so as a person. He was very helpful to me in this first year getting acclimated back to the NFL. I owe him a lot. Just from the conversation we had, we just thought for his career and for the Broncos we felt that now was the best time to go a different way."
They can call it anything they want, but Xanders is being fired. Hired in 2008 by Mike Shanahan, Xanders survived two regime changes. Josh McDaniels named him GM in 2009, but he never had final authority on the roster under Shanahan, Josh McDaniels, or John Elway.
"Brian has a great heart and is a loyal guy. He's the type of guy who would give you the shoe off his foot. This is the worst part of this business," Elway said.
Elway systematically changed the team's front office structure this offseason. He promoted Matt Russell from director of college scouting to director of player personnel. He hired Mike Sullivan to be in charge of contract negotiations. Xanders was left without a role worthy of the GM title.
"It is a streamline; we're not adding anybody," Elway said.
If anything, it is surprising Xanders lasted so long. Most personnel men in similar positions do not survive coaching changes. Xanders' track record was spotty. The last draft under Mike Shanahan was not strong. Xanders and McDaniels' first draft together was disastrous. Things improved dramatically in 2010-2011, but it's unclear how big a role Xanders played in the draft picks.
"John and I had a lengthy conversation today and we mutually decided to part ways for the best interest of my career aspirations,"ââ Xanders said. "I appreciated everything that Pat Bowlen has done for the Broncos and for bringing me here in 2008. It was great working with Coach John Fox. I'm telling you, he's a great coach to work with. And it was great working with John Elway."
This is Peyton Manning's team on the field. And it is John Elway's organization off the field.