Due to the Denver Broncos’ struggles, some have speculated that general manager George Paton would not be back next season.
That speculation likely cooled after ESPN’s Adam Schefter appeared on 104.3 The Fan on December 8.
“I expect that George Paton’s going to be safe. I don’t think he’s going anywhere. You can write that down for me,” Schefter told Mark Schlereth and Mike Evans.
The chatter began because Paton’s hire of head coach Nathaniel Hackett has not worked out. Denver’s new ownership, which purchased the team for an NFL record $4.65 billion, can’t be happy with a 3-9 start and a guaranteed sixth-straight losing season.
Later in the day, Mike Klis of 9News in Denver appeared on 104.3 The Fan and backed up Schefter’s report.
“I’ve heard he’s [Paton] coming back,” Klis told Brandon Stokley and Zach Bye.
It’s likely, however, that Hackett will not be back for a second season.
Paton Could Get Another Shot
If Schefter’s reporting is accurate, Paton will get another chance at finding the right head coach, this time with the help of its new ownership group, led by Greg Penner.
“Broncos fans are going to get to see how [Penner] operates as an owner,” Schefter said during his radio appearance. “And I think it’s going to be very strong, very invested, very caring and very ‘do whatever it takes to get my team that I spent a record sum on going in the right direction.'”
The new Broncos owners are the richest in the NFL and could be willing to spend to make the Broncos competitive and could outbid others for a high-profile coach such as former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton or current University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.
Paton’s Actions Speak for Themselves
After being hired by the Broncos in 2021, Paton was given the keys to the kingdom to save the Denver franchise, hire the right head coach and find a franchise quarterback to get the Broncos back into the playoffs.
Paton has swung and missed so far.
During his rookie season as Denver’s general manager, Paton’s first order of operation was to find the franchise quarterback. Instead, Paton went out and traded for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to compete with Drew Lock.
Paton could’ve easily gone into the draft looking to select a quarterback like Justin Fields or Mac Jones, but he decided to acquire two veterans. That led to the Broncos finishing the season with a 7-10 overall record.
Once the season was over, it was clear to Broncos Country that Paton needed to fire his head coach, Vic Fangio, and hire an offensive mind. He picked Hackett with the potential hope of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers joining him.
Once Denver had an idea that Rodgers was not going to leave Green Bay, Paton switched his attention to another quarterback who was available: Russell Wilson.
After nearly a month of negotiating with Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider, Paton would pull off one of the biggest trades in NFL history.
The Broncos would send two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick, Lock, tight end Noah Fant, and defensive lineman Shelby Harris in exchange for the Super Bowl winning quarterback along with a fourth-round pick.
As training camp was coming to an end, Wilson’s agent Mark Rodgers pressured Paton and the Broncos into giving Wilson a contract extension even though Wilson had two years left on his current deal.
Paton and the Broncos never saw Wilson take a snap in a game yet, before they gave him a five-year extension with $165 million guaranteed.
Since then, the Broncos own a 3-9 overall record and have one of the worst offenses in team history at 13.8 points per game.
So far, it looks like Paton’s head coach will likely be fired after just one season and his quarterback is playing worse than he’s ever played in his career.