Former Broncos Defender Joins Sean Payton’s Coaching Staff: Report

Sean Payton, Denver Broncos

Getty Head coach Sean Payton of the Denver Broncos.

The Denver Broncos’ offseason overhaul of the coaching staff continues.

Their latest add brings plenty of experience to a defense that ranked 22nd against the pass and 30th versus the rush, per Pro Football Reference.

“A little pregame non-Super Bowl news: Sources tell me and @JFowlerESPN that Jim Leonhard is expected to join the Denver Broncos’ staff to coach the secondary,” ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on February 11. “Leonhard is a former NFL DB who’s well regarded in coaching circles and has been talking to several NFL and college teams.”

Leonhard, 41, entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Buffalo Bills in 2005.

He had a 10-year career, logging stints with the Bills, Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Cavaliers, and New York Jets.

Leonhard served as the interim head coach at his alma mater, Wisconsin, in 2022. He was a senior defensive analyst at Illinois this past season. He joined the Badgers staff in 2016, first as defensive backs coach and then as defensive coordinator.

Leonhard has been the epitome of a football overachiever,” 9News’ Broncos insider Mike Klis wrote on February 11.

The former safety inherits a talented group that includes Justin Simmons and Patrick Surtain II.

That could change, though, with both players linked to potential cost-cutting and trade speculation. Several mock drafts also link the Broncos to Alabama’s Terrion Arnold with the No. 12 overall pick.

They certainly hope to improve upon their takeaway numbers, finishing with 11 interceptions last season; the sixth-fewest in the league.

Vikings Poach Broncos DL Coach

Marcus Dixon, Denver Broncos

GettyLinebackers coach Peter Hansen (L) and defensive line coach Marcus Dixon of the Denver Broncos.

Leonhard replaces Christian Parker who left this offseason to join former Broncos head coach Vic Fangio with the Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia hired Fangio as its new defensive coordinator. But he is not the only coach on the way out.

“Sources say Broncos DL coach Marcus Dixon is expected to leave for Minnesota and become the Vikings’ new DL coach,” Graziano reported in a post on February 9.

Dixon leaves behind a legacy of instilling toughness in his Broncos units.

“[The ‘Dark Side’ is] something Coach Dixon created for our defensive unit, mainly the d-line,” defensive tackle D.J. Jones told reporters in August 2022. “But it’s something we break down, something we live by now.

“You got to go to a dark place when you step on that field, so it’s ‘Dark Side’ forever.”

Saint Add Ex-Broncos Assistant to Coaching Staff

Klint Kubiak, Denver Broncos

GettyKlint Kubiak quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos.

A former Broncos staffer landed with current head coach Sean Payton’s former team, the New Orleans Saints.

“The #Saints and #49ers passing game coordinator Klint Kubiak have reached a deal for Kubiak to be their new offensive coordinator, source says,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported in a post on February 12. “The top target all along, Kubiak’s hire gives coach Dennis Allen a rising play-caller who was coveted by several other teams.”

Kubiak spent four seasons in two separate stints with the Broncos. His first was from 2016 – under his father Gary Kubiak – through 2018 as an offensive assistant. He returned in 2022 as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.

The younger Kubiak helped design the NFL’s fourth-ranked passing attack in 2023.