He replaces Dennis Allen, who the Raiders named their next head coach. Del Rio also was in Mobile this week and spent some time visiting with Fox. Fox returned to Denver on Wednesday night, and negotiated with Del Rio and his representatives until reaching a deal Friday evening.
Del Rio, the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003 to 2011, held the defensive coordinator position under Head Coach John Fox in 2002 in Carolina.
"We are thrilled to be able to add such a well-respected defensive coach to our staff," Fox said. "He was an integral part of our turnaround on defense during my first year with the Panthers in 2002."
That year, Del Rio helped improve the Carolina defense, which ranked 31st in the league -- last at the time -- in 2001, to the NFL's second-best.
Del Rio continued that defensive success as a head coach in Jacksonville.
From the 2003 to 2010 seasons, the Jaguars defense ranked 10th in the NFL in total yards allowed and seventh in rushing yards allowed.
This past season in 2011, Jacksonville had the league's No. 6 overall defense, which ranked in the top 10 against both the pass and the run.
"His defenses with the Jaguars have ranked among the NFL's best, and we are excited he's a Bronco," Fox said.
Prior to his one-year stint in Carolina, Del Rio served as linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens from 1999 to 2001, helping the team win Super Bowl XXXV. He coached a linebacker corps that included Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper and Ray Lewis, who was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 under Del Rio's tutelage.
Del Rio began his coaching career in 1997 with the New Orleans Saints -- also where he began his 11-year NFL playing career -- as assistant strength coach, serving as linebackers coach in 1998.
In addition to playing for the Saints, Del Rio spent time with Dallas, Kansas City and Minnesota during his playing career.
Fox loves familiarity: Fox closed the deal so quickly with Del Rio that there wasn’t time to find other candidates. Clearly, Fox focused on his former assistant as soon as Allen took the Oakland job. That means Fox is confident in his new choice.
More experience than Allen: Allen, 39, got the Oakland job after one year’s experience as the Broncos coordinator. Del Rio, 48 and coming off nine seasons as a head coach, is much more seasoned.
Recruiting means something: Even though Denver improved as a defense under Allen, it still needs to reload. Perhaps Del Rio will turn for help to a pair of defensive ends he coached in Jacksonville — Matt Roth and Jeremy Mincey, both free agents.
Also on Friday, the team hired Luke Richesson as its head strength and conditioning coach to replace Rich Tuten. Richesson spent the last three years in the same position with the Jaguars.
Jack Del Rio DIo
Age: 48. Born April 4, 1963, in Castro Valley, Calif.
High school: Football and baseball star at Hayward (Calif.) High School.
College: All-America linebacker at USC, runner-up for 1984 Lombardi Award, MVP of 1985 Rose Bowl.
NFL playing career: Saints selected Del Rio in the third round of the 1985 draft. Played 11 seasons for Saints, Chiefs, Cowboys and Vikings.
NFL coaching career: Saints hired Del Rio as strength coach in 1997. Ravens linebackers coach 1999-2001. Panthers defensive coordinator 2002 under head coach John Fox. Jaguars head coach 2003-11 (68-71 record).
That's it from me, enjoy the pro bowl. ~ Aussie