3. That draft pick going to the Seahawks and that contract…
Let me just pause for a moment and state something — I do not fault George Paton for making the Russell Wilson trade. Even if the Broncos’ top target for over a year was Aaron Rodgers, I don’t think Wilson was a bad consolation, by any means, and I don’t think that it was a mistake to make the blockbuster move to get him.
It’s easy to look at that move in hindsight and say that it was bad, but I’m firmly in the camp that believes there’s no way Russell Wilson has gotten this bad at football this fast. He’s played through injuries this season, the offensive scheme is bad, the players around him are bad, and all of that is just difficult to overcome. Russ needs to play better, absolutely, but I’m of the opinion that more of the blame falls on the coaching staff and personnel around Russ, which also includes injuries that are out of his control.
With that being said, the higher that pick going to Seattle gets (it’s the 3rd overall pick at this point) the more justifiable it is to talk about firing George Paton. When you made the trade for Russell Wilson, you assumed those picks would be — at worst — in the early 20s or late teens. You never could have imagined that a top 3 pick would be going back to Seattle.
Well, it’s shaping up to be a top 3 pick at best, and a top 10 pick at the very worst. The higher that pick is, the worse this trade is reflected on George Paton. Although it’s hyperbolic to call it the worst trade in NFL history (might not even be the worst trade in 2022, unless everyone forgot about the Deshaun Watson trade), I think it’s a really bad deal to get the worst offense in league history in exchange for an elite young prospect — and then some.
The Broncos sent a lot to Seattle in this trade and haven’t gotten anything back yet.
To compound this, Paton and the Broncos made a $245 million financial commitment to Russ before even seeing him play with the team. I don’t really fault them for that either given the way QB contracts work in the NFL these days, but certainly evaluating that move at the moment, it looks like a massive mistake. Even if ownership signed off on that contract, they were putting their trust in the football people — George Paton — to make the right call.
Perhaps Wilson wouldn’t have accepted the trade to Denver without a promise of a new contract, and that was a price the Broncos were willing to pay. Literally. Even if that’s the case, the team has set itself up to be married to Russ for the foreseeable future and they now need to reset the coaching staff and go back to the drawing board of offensive player personnel to make that investment look even reasonably good.