By: Chandler Hyler
Heading into the 2021 NFL Season, the Denver Broncos were in search of their next general manager. In efforts to be removed from the day to day activity, John Elway went out searching for his new eventual replacement.
While Elway actually was actually promoted in a way, he hired a General Manager. Still the President of Football Operations, Elway is still understood to have the ability to step in on a call. That being said, he ultimately has instilled a strong trust in the Broncos’ rookie general manager.
First-year general manager George Paton has been a warranted man across front offices in the NFL. Beginning his profound jersey, Paton took on a scouting role with the Chicago Bears. As a scout of the Bears, Paton excelled and resulted in a quick promotion to assistant director of pro personnel in the year 2000.
During his brief tenure with the Chicago Bears, Paton then met an individual who would play a major factor in his development, Rick Spielman. Once Spielman departed from the Windy City, Paton would follow. After a stint in Miami, the duo then headed to become members of the Skol community.
Where Paton developed and learned how to operate an NFL franchise, to an extent, Minnesota has been the backbone of his career. In a strong 14 seasons with the Vikings, Paton played a predominant role in a draft and development process.
Growing within the organization, Paton worked himself all the way up to eventually becoming the Assistant General Manager and vice president of personnel. Paton had been a hot commodity dating back to 2012 when his interviews had begun.
Passing up interviews, turning down offers, and even removing his name from potential General Manager opportunities, Paton was waiting for a prime opportunity. What stands out about George Paton is the fact he had enough confidence in himself and the expected desire for his abilities, that he passed that many chances up.
Not all potential hires have the moxie to roll the dice in such a consistent manner. Some potential hirees take the first opportunity they get, but Paton believed in himself so strongly that he waited 8 years before accepting his preferred destination.
With the Minnesota Vikings, Paton was a part of a team that selected 17 pro bowlers in their respective drafts or undrafted free agency periods. From building some elite defenses, drafting Dalvin Cook, acquiring Brett Favre and Kirk Cousins, Paton was involved in some impressive transactions.
It certainly isn’t a guarantee that Paton’s upward trajectory continues to rise as he begins his next chapter with the Denver Broncos. As promising as Paton may look, the future remains unknown. All of that said, I have faith not only in George Paton, but the entire Denver Broncos also.
Bringing George Paton in to become the next General Manager of the Denver Broncos has been the overwhelming favorite as the best transaction in 2021, in my opinion.
This was the best decision for one very simple, cut and dry reason, Paton will be making all of the day-to-day decisions. As stated previously, John Elway can block a potentially egregious error, I don’t forsee that being an issue. Not only does this bring relief to Elway, but it also puts the Denver Broncos in a position to succeed in the future.
George Paton has come into the 2021 season with a strategy and he stuck to it. His motto for the entity of the 2021 offseason, Paton reiterated that the Denver Broncos would be aggressive, just not reckless.
Right out the gate, one particular former Detroit Lion became available, Matthew Stafford. Paton immediately showed us what he meant by this. Talking offers with the Lions, the price of the former number one overall pick eventually exceeded what Paton was willing to pay.
After Matthew Stafford started packing his bags for Los Angeles, the DeShaun Waston saga had begun. What potentially began as Watson wanting to be traded due to conflictual reasons with the Houston Texans brass and Jack Easterby.
Before Paton and the Denver Broncos could even breach the doors of a possible Watson trade, the storm just started raining. Shortly after being accused of just one case of sexual assault, a massive amount of baggage therapists came out with similar accusations.
While the jury is still out on the Aaron Rodgers situation, the Denver Broncos did add one quarterback during this offseason. Former Minnestoa Viking himself, Teddy Bridgewater became a member of the Denver Broncos just prior to the 2021 NFL Draft.
In a move that cost the Broncos minimal damage, salary, and draft capital-wise, adding Bridgewater was an efficient move. If Aaron Rodgers becomes available, Broncos Country Tonight’s insider, Benjamin Albright, went as far as to say that if Rodgers were to be traded, it would be to the Denver Broncos.
Trading for Aaron Rodgers could make Paton a very popular man in the Mile High City. Wondering what they may have to give up, sending a package that included two first-round picks, a second-round pick, Teddy Bridgewater, and Bradley Chubb would certainly be enticing.
Maybe the Green Bay Packers would ask for more, but it would be interesting to see how much of his poker chips Paton would be willing to push in on a disgruntled quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. An elite talent and professional, Rodgers would be all the Denver Broncos need to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender
With the overall construction of this roster, the Broncos should be in attack mode. Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant, and Albert Okuegbunam, would light the NFL on fire with Aaron Rodgers slinging the pigskin to them.
If Paton could add Rodgers for the aforementioned package, I would be a firm believer in the Denver Broncos winning the Lombardi at least once over the next few seasons.
When most people look at how an organization “does’ in the offseason, it always seems to be matriculated around player additions. It is often you hear people say, “I love what the Denver Broncos did the offseason, hiring George Paton gives them an A for the offseason, in my book.” Everything seems to orbit around the way the roster improved, not the front office.
Hiring George Paton has already brought the Denver Broncos Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby, as well as retaining key contributors in previous seasons. Von Miller and Kareem Jackson will be staying in Denver for at least one more season. Justin Simmons and Shelby Harris’ contracts were also extended to ensure some long-term retention for this defense.
Built around promise young playmakers on offense, second-round draft pick Javonte Williams, will also have his moments to shine. George Paton’s first-ever draft selection, Patrick Surtain II, looks imposing. It seems taking the misused word “safe” pick in the first round will give this Broncos defense depth and upside in a division that has Patrick Mahomes and Justin Hebert in it.
All of these are decisions that have been made by George Paton. While the Aaron Rodgers thing is just hypothetical at this point, that move would be monstrous. Even if Paton doesn’t secure Rodgers, this offseason still seems like it will be a successful one.
Out of every decision Paton has signed off for to this point, Id say retaining All-Pro safety Justin Simmons has been slightly overlooked. While the members of Broncos Country certainly value Justin Simmons, he may have not been retained if the hard-ball negations tactics of John Elway were pressed.
Looking back towards the end of 2020, there was substantial doubt that Simmons may not be returning to the Mile High. This would not have resonated well with not only the locker room but fans and locals.
Justin Simmons is not just an outstanding athlete, but he is also an outstanding human being. Representing the Denver Broncos last year, in honor of Walter Payton, Simmons continues to show his dedication to his community.
Keeping Simmons in Denver also showed a potential culture shift for this organization and how their home grown talent will be treated. After seeing the negotiating debacles with Elway, having a general manager who wants player to feel truly appreciated is a breath of fresh air.
Justin Simmons was a third round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Since then he has done nothing less than establish himself as a tremendous athlete, teammate, and person. Rewarding this sort of growth and development shines to the up and comers like Courtland Sutton and Bradley Chubb, who are due for contracts soon.
There once was a toxic feeling in the Denver Broncos locker room, that no matter how well you played, locking up a long term deal would be difficult. Even looking at a superstar like Von Miller, the negotiations got a bit frustrated with John Elway being in charge of these ordeals. It went as far as Miller cropping Elway out of photos as he would post them.
Additionally, Shelby Harris was also rewarded with a contract extension. Although Harris was not a Denver Broncos draft selection, he was not who he is now when he arrived to Dove Valley. He certainly has grown since becoming a Denver Bronco, and after two back to back contract seasons, Harris was rewarded.
Harris is known for many things including an infectious laughter and personality, but his ability to swat passes at the line of scrimmage has been noticed league wide. As Harris has reiterated, he has the best hands in the league.
Dishing out these two extensions early in his tenure will do wonders for Paton. Setting the tone that he will take care of his guys will make players want to play for this organization. This team has needed a culture shift since the retirement of new Ring of Famer Peyton Manning, and ironically enough, I think Paton can right that ship.
Outside of retaining key contributors, the other underrated but important move Paton has done was not be reckless. While the Broncos could certainly use a superstar quarterback, his ability to stick to his word on not being reckless has put the Denver Broncos in a fantastic position.
You may be wondering how not trading for Matthew Stafford, or selecting a quarterback in the draft may work out in a positive direction for Paton. Well, put it this way, Aaron Rodgers is holding out of mandatory mini camp. Paton’s willingness of sticking to his guns has put the Broncos in prime position to land the future Hall of Famer.
While Paton did trade for Teddy Bridgewater, giving up merely nothing to acquire him, he could be a potential piece in a package to acquire Rodgers. If Green Bay does eventually agree to trade Rodgers, they will be in need of a veteran quarterback, ala Teddy “Two Gloves,” to help Jordan Love in his sophomore season.
Using Bridgewater in a package for Rodgers would make Paton look even more intelligent.
This Denver Broncos roster is ready to compete now, adding another young quarterback who needs time to develop could be helpful, but it isn’t what helps the Broncos win this year. That is Aaron Rodgers.
In prime position to secure Rodgers, the feeling is actually quite mutual. It is understood by many around the league that Rodgers would not only welcome a trade to the Denver Broncos, but he may even prefer it. For many who don’t follow this team may look at the previous year’s record and ask, “why would Aaron Rodgers want to play for the Denver Broncos?”
As far as the record goes, this team’s talent is not an adequate representation of that. From top to bottom, offense to defense, this team is stacked. This roster has one issue right now, could you guess what that is?
Addressing the glaring hole at quarterback could solve with Aaron Rodgers would solve every issue this team has. By simply not reaching for a quarterback that would not guarantee a shift in the success of this franchise has set Paton up to do just that.
Paton still has all of his future draft picks available, has a quarterback who would be a piece in the trade package, and a few defenders that the Broncos could survive without. It would hurt giving up a Bradley Chubb or Dre’Mont Jones, but adding Rodgers and a potential Lombardi trophy would mend that sore.
Imagine Aaron Rodgers brining the Lombardi trophy home to the Denver Broncos, instead of the franchise the profound trophy was named after. This would put the Broncos winning the Lombardi in three out of the previous four decades, the 1990’s, 2010’s, and 2020’s.
That would be quite a feat considering there are several franchises that to this day, have not to hoist the trophy a single time. Being in this position would not have happened if Paton had become eager and reached for a middling quarterback. Instead, he stuck to his guns, and although an Aaron Rodgers isn’t guaranteed, he has put the Broncos in the a great position to make it happen.
He’s also taken a talented roster to an even higher floor with the additions in free agency, like cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller. In doing so, he put this team in position to draft the best player available in the draft, which he filled this roster with ten potential impact players.
Without luring Paton in as the next Denver Broncos general manager, I am not sure this team is in the position it’s in right now. That is no doubt, the best thing this team could have done after John Elway moved into a higher position. It has been one of the most underrated moves this offseason.
After the hiring of Paton, he immediately stayed true to the backbone of this team and retained the current pillars of this franchise. Also, not reaching for Mitchell Trubisky or any of the other available quarterbacks, has been wildly underrated and its put the Broncos in the driver seat for Aaron Rodgers.
If Paton lures Rodgers in, he may also find himself in the Broncos Ring of Fame someday.