The Denver Broncos have hired Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to serve as the franchise’s 18th head coach, the team announced Thursday. The California native replaces Vic Fangio, who was fired after three seasons.
Hackett’s NFL career began as an offensive quality control coach for Tampa Bay in 2006. After a brief stint with Syracuse, he returned to the league where he has spent the last nine seasons, including three as Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator and three in his current role.
According to FootballOutsiders, the Packers offense was relatively unchanged from the prior year to Hackett’s first as offensive coordinator. Over the past two seasons, the team has finished first or second in DVOA, which is a metric measuring offensive output. The Packers offense has the fewest turnovers (37) & second-best red zone offense since 2019 with Hackett as offensive coordinator.
The California native had also interviewed with Chicago, Minnesota and Jacksonville for their respective openings. Hackett, 42, was still involved in the Jaguars‘ search as recently as yesterday, per reports.
Thursday’s news will fuel the Aaron Rodgers to Denver rumors that began last offseason. Rodgers noted after the season that it was unclear what the future held for him. If the veteran is not the answer within the organization, then they will likely need to address the quarterback position in another way after Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock delivered lackluster performances in 2021.
Despite winning their first three games, the Broncos finished with a 7-10 record. They hold the No. 9 overall selection, which is the same pick used to select Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II a year earlier, in the 2022 NFL Draft. The franchise does have the sixth-most salary cap space, according to Spotrac.com, with roughly $44.8 million.
No Denver coach has lasted more than four seasons since Mike Shanahan left in 2008.
The NFL pushed back the league calendar to accommodate the addition of Week 18, and that has had a direct impact on the hiring process. A year ago, the first head coaching hire was made Jan. 14 and the final hire was made Jan. 29. The Giants, Raiders, Bears, Jaguars, Vikings, Dolphins, Texans and now Saints still have active openings.