HomeTrade RumorsDenver Broncos Expected to Keep GM George Paton

Denver Broncos Expected to Keep GM George Paton

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We heard last month that Broncos general manager George Paton could be on the hot seat, but that does not appear to be the case. As Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com report, Paton is expected to keep his job through at least the 2024 season.

Paton was one of the most popular names on the GM interview circuit for years before the longtime Vikings exec finally decided to leave Minnesota to head up Denver’s personnel department in January 2021. While detractors will point to his ultimately disastrous decision to hire Nathaniel Hackett as head coach in 2022 and to the ill-fated blockbuster trade for quarterback Russell Wilson, Paton did show off his talent evaluation chops during his first draft with the Broncos, bringing in the likes of Patrick Surtain, Javonte Williams, Quinn Meinerz, Baron Browning, and Jonathon Cooper. The 2022-23 drafts started late due to the Wilson trade, though it was the club’s new ownership that drove the Wilson extension that is expected to create a salary cap nightmare in short order (likewise, although Paton is the one who ultimately approached Wilson about pushing back his 2025 guarantee, ownership and head coach Sean Payton surely had a hand in that controverisal overture).

Payton is widely believed to wield final say over the Broncos’ roster decisions, and even if that is not the case, Paton did lose plenty of power when club CEO Greg Penner announced in December 2022 that both the head coach and general manager would report to ownership. Despite that, and despite Payton’s surprisingly open criticism of Paton over the summer, Rapoport and Pelissero say that the two men enjoy a strong working relationship. That relationship, combined with Paton’s evaluation abilities, may well be enough to keep Paton in Denver.

Adam Schefter of ESPN.com also notes that Payton and Paton have worked well together this year, and that Payton respects Paton’s talents. Schefter does not indicate one way or another whether Paton will be retained, though he does confirm that Payton “has significant authority and influence” over Denver’s football operation and that a decision will need to be made on Paton’s future.

Assuming that the Payton-Paton partnership survives for another season, Paton will have at least some role in navigating the Broncos’ complex quarterback situation. The expected Wilson release and the dead money hit that it will generate will make it difficult for Denver to acquire a high-end veteran passer, and the team may not be picking high enough to land a surefire prospect in the 2024 draft. As such, Jarrett Stidham may find himself as the Broncos’ starting QB to begin the 2024 season, a season that could go a long way towards determining Paton’s long-term future in the Mile High City.

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