Report: Broncos pushed out Wade Phillips over contract dispute

The Denver Broncos played off Wade Phillips' departure as a passing of the torch, but behind-the-scenes conflict reportedly forced the 70-year-old's hand.

According to 9News' Mike Klis, citing "multiple sources," Phillips and Broncos general manager John Elway had a financial disagreement after the team won Super Bowl 50.

Phillips, who was entering the final year of his contract, approached Elway hoping to become the NFL's highest-paid defensive coordinator by "a substantial margin." Elway declined, countering with an "either-or option" -- an extension or a pay raise.

He wasn't getting both, but took the latter.

A lame duck, Phillips coached the entire season without an assurance about his future. Once Gary Kubiak suddenly retired, it became clear that Phillips was no longer in the team's plans.

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Vance Joseph was named Kubiak's successor on Jan. 11. That same day, word spread that secondary coach Joe Woods was to be promoted to coordinator. On Jan. 12, ESPN's Adam Schefter broke the news that Phillips would join Sean McVay in Los Angeles with the Rams.

None of this was by coincidence.

“It was Joe’s time,’’ Joseph said.

Would Denver have elevated Woods if Phillips' deal didn't expire? Would it have truly been "Joe's time" if the son of Bum, widely respected by his players and renowned around the league, had taken the extension?

As always, there's more to the story, some of which we'll never know for sure.

But Phillips, transitioning to a new chapter, isn't interested in advancing this narrative.

"I've left several [teams]," he said Friday about leaving Denver, via NFL.com. "Sometimes I didn't want to leave, sometimes it's your choice, sometimes it's somebody else's choice. It's a new challenge certainly, keeps me going. I love those guys there, but I'm gonna love these guys here too."

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @Kelberman247

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