Vance Joseph's message to Broncos: 'Come back here with no issues'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Unlike some of their recent years, the Denver Broncos concluded their offseason work this week in relative peace and football quiet.

And they hope it stays that way until they return for training camp. Asked what he told the players as he sent them into a five-week break before they report back in late July, Broncos coach Vance Joseph said he kept the message simple, and direct.

"Kind of leave here, come back the same way as far as the football IQ, as far as the systems," Joseph said. "Off the field, just be smart ... Make good decisions socially and come back here with no issues."

That hasn't always been the case in recent seasons when the Broncos have wrestled with some issues from time to time. Some were controversial, some were just business, some were expected and some were not.

After 2013 season the Broncos were coming off a 35-point Super Bowl loss and spent the next six months trying to leave it behind. After the 2014 season, the Broncos designated wide receiver Demaryius Thomas a franchise player and he missed the team's offseason program before signing a new long-term deal in July, just before that training camp.

After the 2015 season? Where to start. The Broncos won Super Bowl 50, but the questions of whether Peyton Manning would retire or take a pay cut were just the openers. There were also Von Miller's sometimes-testy contract negotiations that came with the potential of a holdout for the Super Bowl MVP, Aqib Talib's self-inflicted gunshot wound just before the team's White House trip, and the departure of several of the team's free agents.

This year Joseph has completed his first offseason program as a head coach with a minimum of issues. On the field he's got a quarterback competition that will fuel conversation when training camp rolls around, some uncertainty with the offensive line and a smattering of injuries.

But overall the Broncos have largely stayed out of the offseason limelight to this point.

"It has been quiet," is how Miller put it just before the end of the offseason program. "I think guys didn't like the way last season went and came back to change it ... But I think everybody came here to work, and when training camp comes around they'll be ready to work again."

Though kicker Brandon McManus was the last restricted free agent in the league to sign his one-year tender offer for the coming season, the contract that still needs a signature and is the biggest part of the Broncos' unfinished business belongs to John Elway.

The Broncos' executive vice president of football operations/general manager has less than a year remaining on a three-year extension he signed in 2014. Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis has consistently said he believes an extension will get done before the start of the 2017 season.

And at a recent appearance when Elway was given a Community Enrichment Award by the Mizell Institute in Denver, he, too, re-affirmed his expectation that a deal would get done.

"I don't see any problems with that. I look forward to being here with the Broncos for a long time," Elway said. " ... I don't think there will be any doubt."

The Broncos have gone 67-29 (.698) in regular-season games since Broncos owner Pat Bowlen hired Elway for his current job in 2011, with five AFC West titles and two Super Bowl trips, including the February 2016 win in Super Bowl 50. So, until a signature is on a new deal, Elway's future will be the hottest of topics around the team.

Elway's future, if the optimism doesn't turn into a deal before training camp, could certainly overtake what has been a quiet spring for the Broncos. But at the moment the Broncos' players have largely dispersed for what remains of their off time and Joseph hopes he feels as good about things when they return as he did when they left.

"It’s been really quality work," he said. "I've been impressed with the group as far as being engaged and learning. The weight room work has been great. It's a good group. It’s a motivated group and that makes my job easy."