Denver Broncos: George Paton failing with in-season roster adjustments

Denver Broncos general manager George Paton. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos general manager George Paton. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Denver Broncos General Manager George Paton was a homerun hire, but his in-season roster building is questionable, at best.

The hiring of George Paton to replace John Elway as the new General Manager for the Denver Broncos was a phenomenal hire, praised league-wide.

After a decade of running the show, John Elway stepped away from his General Manager duties and gave the reigns to the franchise to long-time executive George Paton, who had recently spent time with Minnesota.

George Paton’s offseason as GM was filled with very nice free agent signings in Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby.  He made what appears to be a good trade in acquiring Teddy Bridgewater for a 6th round pick, and was able to re-sign Shelby Harris, Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, and exercised the option for Von Miller.

By any standard, his first offseason was nearly perfect, and that continued into the draft, picking day 1 contributors like Javonte Williams and Patrick Surtain II.

He also drafted future starters in Quinn Meinerz and Baron Browning.  Again, by any standard, his first draft was simply excellent.

However, with the mounting injuries the Denver Broncos sustained earlier in the season, the moves to fill the voids left by the injured players have been puzzling at best.

Let’s start with the injury to one of the better edge rushers in the NFL, Bradley Chubb.  Bradley Chubb is recovering from ankle surgery and is probably at least a month away from returning.

In response to this, George Paton didn’t go out and sign someone who has legitimate NFL experience off the edge, but he signed Aaron Patrick, a 24-year old who was signed off the Jaguars practice squad.  

He is an undrafted first-year player from Eastern Kentucky who didn’t do enough to make the Jaguars active roster, which is lacking talent across the board.

The Denver Broncos defense is one of the best in the NFL and is needed to help close out games.  So why, when Bradley Chubb goes down, who is a Pro Bowl edge rusher and top 5 pick, does Paton sign a practice squad guy to take his place?

Am I supposed to believe there aren’t any better options on the street or available for trade?

Moving on to the wide receivers now, the Denver Broncos are missing Jerry Jeudy for another few weeks and are without KJ Hamler for the rest of the year due to a torn ACL.  Jerry Jeudy is recovering from a high ankle sprain.

Both Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler are excellent at gaining separation from defenses; Jeudy has insane route running ability and great speed, so he can get separation better than most.

KJ Hamler has 4.2 speed, and defenses have to respect his quickness, even if he doesn’t consistently produce.

Both Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick are your typical, big-bodied ‘X’ receivers.  They can get separation from defensive backs with their large frames, but not the same way as both Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler can.

The offense has become a bit one-dimensional with their absences.  The Broncos’ wide receiver depth going into the season was better than most teams, but it’s clear the Broncos are missing two genuine wide receiving threats.

So what exactly has George Paton done to help fix the wide receiving issue?

He signed David Moore, who failed to make the Carolina Panthers roster, got cut, and was being stashed on the Raiders practice squad.

Moore is a 5th-year player and former 7th round pick.  Most recently, he played for the Seattle Seahawks in 2020 and caught 35 passes for 417 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Moore is very clearly a lower-end WR3 and hasn’t caught a pass for the Broncos so far.  In fact, he’s played just 23 snaps for the Broncos in two games.

The Broncos have used Kendall Hinton more in the receiving game than Moore, who was signed in response to injuries to Hamler and Jeudy.

Kendall Hinton is an okay depth piece at best, in my opinion, and there aren’t any other wide receivers on the Broncos roster who can come close to trying to replace the threats that Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler present.

Even with the injury to Josey Jewell, it took the Broncos weeks to make a move, signing Avery Williamson to the practice squad.

Why didn’t George Paton address the edge position more with Bradley Chubb out?  Why didn’t he try to swing a trade for Brandin Cooks?  Why wasn’t Golden Tate or John Brown given looks?  The latter two receivers have enjoyed solid success in the NFL and would not only bring veteran presence but production.

Why did George Paton settle on David Moore, who couldn’t make an active roster?  Why isn’t George Paton being more aggressive in trying to fill out the rest of the Broncos roster?

The team’s roster is wildly talented and easily playoff caliber, but the moves made by George Paton this season would indicate to me that he is clearly looking to 2022 and beyond.