Broncos hire Heckert as personnel exec

Baltimore may have gotten a good measure of revenge on John Elway in recent months, but he still owns Cleveland.

The Broncos have announced the hiring of former Browns GM Tom Heckert as their new director of pro personnel, the role recently vacated by Keith Kidd.

But Heckert was fired by the Browns, who went just 14-34 during his three-year tenure there, so how does this count as Elway sticking it to Cleveland again?

You see, Heckert was actually a popular figure in northeastern Ohio - at least enough for one activist Browns fan to set up a Dont Fire Heckert (sic) website, and another to start an online petition imploring new (and now troubled) owner Jimmy Haslam to keep the incumbent GM.

Okay, so the website is a poorly written one-pager, and the petition only got 237 signatures, a number small enough that those supporters might all know each other.

But several articles from the Cleveland area show support for Heckert, citing his drafting and cap management as proof of his solid work.

Still, Haslam fired him after the regular season, a move Heckert says he saw coming the moment Joe Banner - his longtime former boss when both were with the Eagles - was hired as team CEO and given final say over personnel decisions.1

The Michigan native got his NFL start in Miami, where he was a pro and college scout from 1991 to 1998, before being promoted to assistant director of pro personnel/college scout in 1999. A year later, the Dolphins made him their director of pro personnel. Heckert's father, also Tom, spent 26 years as an NFL personnel man, including 19 years with the Dolphins and five with the Browns.

Heckert spent nine seasons (2001-09) in Philadelphia, working as director of player personnel for two years, another three as VP of player personnel, and then four years as GM. For three of those seasons (2006-08), current Broncos director of player personnel Matt Russell was a scout under Heckert's watch.

But even while he held the GM title, then-Eagles coach Andy Reid maintained final say over personnel decisions, so Heckert's 2010 departure to Cleveland, where he was hired by Mike Holmgren (Reid's boss in Green Bay), was a true step up.

Following his New Year's Eve dismissal, Heckert was courted heavily by the LOLJets and at least one other team, but was scared off by either New Jersey's cap situation or their circus atmosphere.

Cleveland fired Heckert with two years remaining on his contract, so he truly did have the luxury of waiting for the job he wanted, and what could be more plum than stepping into a position with an NFL overdog?

With the Broncos, Heckert will report to Matt Russell, and oversee the scouting of current NFL players, and the advance scouting of future opponents. 

It was strongly suggested that Heckert would join Reid wherever he ended up, following Reid's firing by the Eagles, but instead of Chiefs colleagues, the two will be AFCW opponents.

Heckert, who will turn 46 in July, underwent a heart bypass in February of 2012.

Keith Kidd, whom Heckert replaces in Denver, had spent four years with the Broncos, following his 2009 hiring by then-coach Josh McDaniels. It was reported last week that Kidd's contract would not be renewed.

1 Why Mike Klis reports that Heckert did not have final say in Cleveland is puzzling, given that Heckert explicitly says that he did.


Updated 12:41pm ET

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM