Broncos’ GM George Paton may go heavy in free agency again in 2023

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 might have less time than he thinks with Russell Wilson. Because of this, he may go heavier in free agency periods.  Russell Wilson has not been good this year, leading some to speculate that he’s fallen off a bit.

I think it’s a near-objective fact that he is not the same athlete he was, say, five years ago.  Perhaps he isn’t as shifty and fast as he was, but he can still make plays with his legs.  He’s also missed open receivers a bit this year, and his desire to be a pocket passer has likely contributed to that, as being 5’10” certainly does not allow him to see over the massive offensive linemen.

The Broncos are in need of some top-end draft capital because of the trade to acquire Wilson.  Given that George Paton has proven to be an effective drafter, he should continue stockpiling the roster with some quality rookie talent.

However, if the team ends up not having as much time with Russell Wilson as they originally thought, being active players in free agency is the smart move.

Take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for example.  Tom Brady arrived in 2020 and it was easy to see why the team thought they only had a few years max with the aging veteran.  Now in year three, Tampa looks about as broken as a team can be.

What did Tampa do to maximize their chances during the high years of the Brady era?  They were perhaps the most active team in free agency.  During their window, their free agency periods consisted of signing guys like Leonard Fournette, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Rob Gronkowski, OJ Howard, and Giovani Bernard, among a few others.

What they also did which was key in their success was add key value players in the NFL draft.  They were able to snag players like Tristan Wirfs, Antoine Winfield, Jamel Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Devin White, Vita Vea, Carlton Davis, and Alex Cappa.  Their general manager was able to hit on quite a few players during the drafts leading up to their success over 2020-2021.

The formula is clear, and it’s one that George Paton should follow.  Why not approach further roster building like they only have another three years with Wilson?  Sure, Wilson might be able to play for five years or more in Denver, but why take the chance that he has a steep fall-off?

Paton was relatively active in free agency this past offseason.  He signed Randy Gregory, K’Waun Williams, DJ Jones, and Billy Turner, who have all contributed this season and could all have roles for 2023.

Paton needs to keep this same energy for the Broncos next offseason; hit on some players during the draft and get good play out of them on their rookie deals, and fill out the rest of the roster with quality free agents.

He seems to have hit on quite a few players in his first couple of drafts like Patrick Surtain II, Javonte Williams, Baron Browning, Quinn Meinerz, and Caden Sterns.  If extended, the earliest we’d see the class of 2021 extension is after their third season in 2023.

The Broncos still have time before they have to hand over some extensions, and they should use that time wisely.  George Paton should hit the ground running in the 2023 free agency period and should also continue to hit on players in the NFL draft.  This is the formula for the Broncos.

Another point to add here is that it seems 2022 is effectively a lost year because of the Nathaniel Hackett disaster, so that should prompt him to act quickly.