For the last two seasons, the Denver Broncos employed one of their ex-players, Renaldo Hill, as defensive backs coach.
For 2021 (and beyond), with Hill no longer on the payroll, the Broncos could resort to a similar strategy.
9News' Mike Klis reported Monday that Denver is "making calls" to replace Hill, who bolted to Los Angeles to become the Chargers' defensive coordinator under rookie head coach (and former Broncos linebackers coach) Brandon Staley.
Klis specifically name-dropped Philadelphia Eagles DBs coach Marquand Manuel, San Francisco 49ers DBs coach Tony Oden — "who may follow [Robert] Saleh to Jets" — and Jets passing game coordinator Dennard Wilson as potential Hill successors.
Manuel is perhaps the most appealing given his previous ties to the orange and blue. An NFL safety from 2002-09, the 41-year-old spent the penultimate season of his playing career (2008) in Denver, where he was a 14-game starter opposite Marlon McCree.
Manuel broke into the coaching ranks in 2012 as the Seattle Seahawks' special teams assistant. He was on staff the following two seasons, promoted to defensive assistant and then assistant secondary coach, and earned a Super Bowl ring when the Seahawks defeated the Broncos in 2014.
He spun that success into a job as the Atlanta Falcons' secondary coach from 2015-16 and was bumped to DC for the 2017-2018 campaigns. Atlanta's defense ranked eighth in points and ninth in total yards in 2017 but plummeted to 25th and 28th, respectively, the following season.
Manuel was out of the league before resurfacing with the Eagles, whose secondary ranked 15th overall in 2020, surrendering 237.4 yards per game — a mark barely better than Hill's unit, which ceded 237.9 YPG.
If he were to defect to Denver, Manuel would inherit a back end rife with question marks, beginning at safety where Pro Bowler Justin Simmons is slated to hit the open market and Kareem Jackson is a possible release candidate.
The Broncos also are expected to move on from starting cornerback AJ Bouye in the weeks ahead and have been connected to the top CBs in the 2021 draft class, particularly Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley.