What does George Paton need to improve on as a GM?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAR 01: George Paton, general manager of the Denver Broncos speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAR 01: George Paton, general manager of the Denver Broncos speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Denver Broncos General Manager George Paton is about to conclude his second year on the job. What could he improve on so far?  The opinions on Paton seem to be all over the place within Broncos Country.  Some already want to fire him after just two seasons while some still have trust that he can dig the Broncos out of this mess.

It would be quite unprecedented to see a GM get the axe after just two years.  Something like that simply does not happen in the NFL, but with the new ownership in place, it’s possible until it doesn’t happen.

I personally still trust Paton.  He’s done well in the NFL draft and has been able to sign some good players in free agency.  Signing some who are injury prone doesn’t make much sense, but he’s been able to get extremely talented players from outside the organization.

He also has been able to extend some key players within the building, which is something he talked about quite a bit.  He gave contract extensions to Justin Simmons, Courtland Sutton, Josey Jewell, Tim Patrick, and will likely extend Patrick Surtain II next offseason, not this one.

The trade for Russell Wilson was also a good move and I think we’ll begin to see that play out next year.  I don’t fault Wilson for the poor year he’s had and I do believe that the organization and any other team that needed a quarterback would have pulled the trigger on trading for Wilson.

However, Paton is not perfect and there are a few things he needs to improve on as the General Manager.

Things George Paton needs to improve on as the GM

Enough with the injury-prone free agents

Paton gave a bunch of money to Ronald Darby, Randy Gregory, and K’Waun Williams.  All of those players are excellent at what they do but all came with extensive injury histories and have all missed time this year and last.

George Paton, going forward, needs to not take chances like this on injury-prone free agents, or if he does, perhaps have a backup plan in mind for when they get injured.  Randy Gregory signed a $70 million deal this past offseason and has hardly played $1 million worth of football.

Ronald Darby has played in just 16 out of a possible 34 regular season games for the Broncos.  He’s one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the NFL but has never been able to stay on the field consistently.

Improved adjustments in-season

Paton has failed on his in-season roster adjustments.  Perhaps he doesn’t feel like he needs to have more urgency with these moves because the team stinks right now, but I worry that, if the Broncos do right the ship next year with a decent coaching staff, Paton won’t be able to work the roster the right way when injuries happen.

An example, which absolutely killed me, was when Bradley Chubb went down against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the beginning of last season.  Paton’s corresponding move was to sign a practice squad player from another team to their active roster.

That player was Aaron Patrick.

Now you tell me, does that move seem sufficient losing a premier pass rusher?  Mind you, the Broncos did start 3-0 last year and appeared to be in a position to compete for a playoff spot.  Obviously, that did not happen, but my point still stands.

I also think he didn’t do much of anything at all when Garett Bolles went down earlier this year against the Colts.  Denver was 2-3 at that point and surely not out of any type of playoff race.  Why didn’t Paton try and sign a free agent, like Eric Fisher?

His lack of urgency for in-season adjustments is pathetic.

In summary

I think these are the two biggest issues right now.  Others that are extensions of what I just mentioned would be, for example, doing more when Tim Patrick went down in the offseason.  Paton relied on his “next man up” mentality and that simply did not work.

I’d also like to see him be more active in free agency.  His “build from within” mindset that he talked about during the beginning of his time here is an OK idea, but Super Bowl teams are built through the draft and in free agency.

The best quality about George Paton is his drafting.  He seems to want to rely on that the most, but even the best GMs are going to totally whiff on a draft or two.  I’d personally love to see George Paton be more active in free agency.

I’m not asking him to fork over tens of millions more, but rather taking more calculated, high-reward risks.  Overall, George Paton should try and improve on these few things if he wants to continue being an effective GM.