Former Wisconsin football coach Jim Leonhard is making his return to the NFL, landing a role with a team he knows well – the Denver Broncos, where he played during the 2012 NFL season.
NFL insider Dan Graziano first reported the news. Several outlets have since confirmed.
Leonhard is expected to serve as the secondary coach for the Broncos, a position that will also include responsibilities as the team’s defensive pass game coordinator.
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. Leonhard is a former NFL DB who’s well regarded in coaching circles and has been talking to several NFL and college teams
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) February 11, 2024
While the deal is said to be agreed upon in principle, finalizations are still in the works. This opportunity arose quickly after Bret Bielema suggested that Leonhard had some ‘irons in the fire’ at the NFL level. Leonhard will take over the role vacated by Christian Parker, who recently joined the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff.
Former Wisconsin Football Coach Jim Leonhard Back in the NFL
For Jim Leonhard, his coaching journey saw him spend seven seasons with the University of Wisconsin football program, culminating in his stint as interim coach during the 2022 season.
Despite his contributions, Leonhard was passed over for the head coach opening following the regular season finale and declined an offer to join Luke Fickell’s coaching staff. Last fall, Leonhard served as a senior analyst at Illinois under former Badgers coach Bret Bielema.
During his coaching stint with the Wisconsin football team, Leonhard made a profound impact as the Badgers defensive coordinator.
Under his guidance, Wisconsin’s defense consistently ranked among the nation’s best, showcasing himself as one of the brightest young minds. In six seasons as the defensive coordinator, the Badgers finished top 10 in points per game allowed four times and top 10 in total yardage four times.
Having carved out a successful career in the NFL as a player for ten seasons, Jim Leonhard now steps into a coaching role in the league for the first time. He joins a team striving to regain its winning form, coming off an 8-9 season under head coach Sean Payton.
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