On Tuesday, which was day two of the NFL's legal tampering window being open, the Denver Broncos traded fullback Andy Janovich to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a 2021 seventh-round draft pick.
While there’s been speculation about Janovich’s limited role on the Broncos' offense with new coordinator Pat Shurmur at the helm, the timing of this trade was a surprise. Commonly referred to as ‘Jano’ by coaches, teammates and fans, his contributions on offense and special teams will be remembered by Broncos Country.
The Nebraska-native was drafted by the Broncos in 2016 in the sixth-round (pick 176). Janovich was brought to Denver to lead the Shanahan-Kubiak smash-mouth rushing attack that GM John Elway utilized when he won back-to-back Super Bowls as a quarterback in the late 1990s. Back then, it was Howard Griffith who cleared the hole for Hall-of-Fame running back Terrell Davis.
While he didn’t taste the same championship glory as Griffith, Janovich blocked for running backs like C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker, Jamaal Charles, Royce Freeman, and Phillip Lindsay.
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Why it Happened
The hiring of Shurmur suggested that Janovich was more than likely going to be displaced. The fullback position is rarely utilized in the spread offense, despite the fact that Janovich signed a three-year, $5.7 million contract extension last October.
Traditionally, the spread offense substitutes the fullback with a slot receiver, but in recent years, Shurmur has implemented various personnel sets with the H-back position. Shurmur’s offense utilizes various pre-snap motions featuring H-backs set off the line of scrimmage and tight ends in zone blocking schemes. Consequently, the demand for a traditional lead-blocking fullback is no longer there for the Broncos.
A Leader Lost
In 2019, Janovich was named the Broncos’ 2019 Ed Block Courage Award recipient. Teammates honored him with the award which represents commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.
After suffering a season-ending elbow injury in Week 11, Janovich continued to demonstrate his leadership and blue-collar mentality in the training room and around the facility.
While I’m not particularly happy to see Janovich traded to the Browns, I’m comfortable with the transaction at least. The trade frees up $570,000 in cap space and eliminates a non-essential position.
This should also be a dead-set giveaway that Elway has reshaped his offensive philosophy. Rather than continuing to implement the offense that he perfected as a QB, and also constructed as a GM to championship success in Super Bowl 50, Elway is prioritizing Drew Lock’s strengths and comfortability in the spread offense, while acquiescing to Shurmur's schematic necessities.