Russell Wilson’s personal coach Jake Heaps joined the Denver Broncos quarterback in his move from Seattle to Denver last season.
He attended training camp last offseason but will not have access to Broncos facilities under Sean Payton.
The Broncos officially introduced their new head coach on Monday and he was asked about Heaps and his access. He replied that he is “unfamiliar” with the practice, but that he will not continue under her guidance.
“This is foreign to me,” Payton said. “It won’t happen here. It’s not familiar to me. But our staff will be here, our players will be here, and it will be like this.”
Wilson’s first season in Denver was a disaster. The nine-time Pro Bowler had the worst season of his career as a Broncos team as Super Bowl aspirations exploded to 5-12. Denver averaged a league-worst 16.9 points per game with a tepid offense rating midseason as one of the worst in NFL history.
Rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett did not survive the season. Wilson did it, and his five-year, $165 million deal guarantees all but that he will do it for seasons to come. But it won’t be business as usual under Payton, who joins the Broncos as the highest-profile coach of the offseason following a 15-season stint in New Orleans that included nine playoff appearances and a Super Bowl win for a previously perpetually moribund Saints. franchise.
Who is Jake Heaps?
A former college quarterback at BYU, Kansas and Miami, Heaps joined the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie in 2015. He signed briefly with the Seahawks’ practice squad in 2016 and returned for an offseason with the Seahawks in 2017. Ha has never thrown an NFL pass, but he built a relationship with Wilson during his time in Seattle.
Heaps hasn’t been on a soccer roster since a 2017 stint on the CFL’s BC Lions practice squad. He has since worked as a Seattle sports radio host and quarterbacks coach. He quit his job with Seattle Sports 710 am in 2022 to follow Wilson to Denver and work full-time as his quarterbacks coach.
Wilson, like Payton this offseason, has joined Denver as a high-profile business acquisition expected to lead the Broncos to success. Along with Heaps, Wilson also brought his own trainer, strength and conditioning coach, and massage therapist to Denver. It’s a deal that isn’t unusual in NFL circles.
Lamar Jackson’s personal trainer, Adam Dedeaux joined him at the Ravens’ training camp last low season. Coach Alex Guerrero famously worked closely with Tom Brady in New England before coach Bill Belichick banned him from Patriots facilities. Heaps said last offseason that he was wary of pushing the boundaries of him in Denver.
“They’ve been amazing about it and it’s been really fun to work with him and for Russell to have this opportunity in Denver,” Heaps told Denver’s 9 News last summer. “My job is not to step on staff.”
The boundaries are now clear under the Payton regime. Heaps is not welcome at Broncos headquarters. Though that doesn’t mean he won’t work closely with the Denver quarterback.
Payton is credited with helping Drew Brees become a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback in New Orleans. His main job in Denver will be to chart a path for Wilson to return to the form that brought him success in Seattle. On Monday he broached the subject.
“It was obviously not the kind of season he wanted to have,” Payton told reporters of Wilson, per the Denver Post. . I think the number 1 job for us as coaches when evaluating our players is: ‘What does he do really well?’ And then we try to put it in those positions. At least, that’s the starting point for highlighting their strengths and then downplaying what might be the weaknesses.
“Here’s what I know. I know he is a worker. An extremely hard worker. It’s important. And I think you get that, you understand the skillset. … And then you go from there.