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Ravens Fire Longtime DC Don Martindale; Could 'Wink' Reunite with Broncos?

Martindale is now a free agent.

Just in case the Denver Broncos go against their recent historical grain and hire an offensive mind, it stands to reason they would pair that rookie head coach — whether Nathaniel Hackett, Luke Getsy, Kellen Moore, Eric Bieniemy, Brian Callahan, or Kevin O'Connell — with a veteran counterpart.

A new name to consider on the Broncos' 2022 ticket is Don "Wink" Martindale, who became available Friday following his firing as Ravens defensive coordinator, unexpectedly ending a decade-long run in Baltimore that was highlighted by a Super Bowl championship.

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Martindale, though, is an old name to Broncos Country, having coached the club's linebackers in 2009 before being promoted to DC in 2010, the second and final year of the Josh McDaniels era. Martindale's tenure was generally forgettable, like most things Broncos around that time.

Martindale was much more successful in his second stint as defensive play-caller. Running his blitz-heavy, one-gap system, the Ravens ranked within the top-10 in both total yards and points allowed from 2018-2020 before careening off a cliff this season, finishing 14th and 19th in those categories.

Much of the downturn stemmed from a biblical rash of injuries — the secondary was hit especially hard, losing top cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey and safety DeShon Elliott — but Martindale was scapegoated nonetheless.

"We have had a great run on defense, and I am very proud of what has been accomplished and the work he has done," Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh said in a statement released Friday, via ESPN. "Don has been a major contributor to the success of our defense since 2012, and especially since he became defensive coordinator four years ago. He has done a great job. Now it is time to pursue other opportunities.

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"Sometimes the moment comes, and it's the right time. I am personally grateful for our friendship and for everything he has done in Baltimore."

Martindale, 58, will be a coveted coordinator commodity on the open market, joining former Broncos HC Vic Fangio and ex-Vikings HC Mike Zimmer. The latter is an option to resurfance in the Mile High City due to his familiarity with general manager George Paton. This, assuming Paton taps a first-time head man whose expertise is on the opposite side of the ball.

Don't rule out a reunion, of some sort, in the Mile High City.

Wink, wink.

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