The NFL is approaching Black Monday, where teams typically make headline firings, and the job status of Broncos' GM George Paton is gaining some traction. When Sean Payton was hired about one year ago, that put a ton of uncertainty on Paton's job status with the team beyond this year. Even one year ago, Paton's reasons for warranting a firing were already stacking up.
The hiring of Nathaniel Hackett and trading of Russell Wilson are the most notable failures of his era. Add when the team benched Russell Wilson a few weeks ago, that gave more reason why Paton could have found himself out of a job in 2024. However, a fresh report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport seems to indicate the total opposite, that Paton is safe:
"The Broncos head into the offseason with plenty of questions and a variety of pertinent conversations to be had. But sources say there shouldn't be a question about the status of general manager George Paton.- Ian Rapoport
Paton is viewed as safe inside the organization, sources say. Based on his overall evaluation talents and a strong working relationship with Sean Payton since the head coach arrived last offseason, all indications are Paton should stay on.
While Penner makes the final decision and is in charge, Payton's voice is also strong. To be sure, there will be plenty of talks aimed at improving for the future. But the alliterative triumvirate of Payton, Paton, and Penner appear to be staying together."
I find this very interesting, as there seems to be a league-wide misconception that Paton has been this stellar evaluator of talent for the Denver Broncos. And I don't think that is remotely true. Outside of Patrick Surtain and Quinn Meinerz, both picked in 2021, where else can those people say that Paton has done a good job evaluating talent?
Other 2021 draft picks like Javonte Williams, Baron Browning, Caden Sterns, and Jonathon Cooper are all rotational, backup-caliber players at best, and both Browning and Sterns cannot consistently stay healthy. Paton's 2022 draft class is abysmal. The best player from this class is Nik Bonitto, who has come on a bit as a pass rusher this year but is still clearly not an every down type of player.
Paton swung at draft picks including Damarri Mathis, Greg Dulcich, Delarrin Turner-Yell, Montrell Washington, Luke Wattenberg, and Matt Henningsen. No player from this list is really doing much in the NFL. I'm not sure where people can point to that indicates Paton is a good evaulator of talent, but anyway...
Rapoport indicates that the working relationship between Sean Payton and George Paton is strong, and I guess that could have been a sticking point for some. Paton was very patient in interviewing and accepting his first GM job, interviewing with nearly half of the league before settling on the Denver Broncos in 2021, and it's still not clear whether or not Paton feels OK knowing that he is not the final authority on roster moves.
But I guess with this report, perhaps Paton is fine with it. I'm not really huge on the idea of George Paton remaining with the Broncos, as his tenure with the team has been quite awful, but Sean Payton had the final roster authority in New Orleans and it worked out pretty well for them.