Broncos GM George Paton might not own any blame for Russell Wilson mess

Is it possible that we are all mad at the wrong person?

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If you really think about it, the Russell Wilson debacle might not be the fault of the Denver Broncos General Manager, George Paton. Bear with me here. It sounds silly right now, but I think I can convince you to take your anger elsewhere, not directed at Paton. Now, I will be the first to say that even without considering the Russell Wilson trade, if you hold that against Paton, his other GM moves have been horrid.

His NFL drafts have largely been below-average. His free agency hauls have been putrid, and his decision to hire Nathaniel Hackett proved to be a disastrous one. Paton should have been fired as soon as the 2023 NFL season ended, but I guess Sean Payton trusts Paton, to a degree. Now, many people do want to blame George Paton for the mess that the Broncos are in.

And the team cutting Justin Simmons the other day has left many fans in a whirlwind of frustration. If the Broncos finished with a winning record in 2023, Justin Simmons may still be a part of the Broncos plans. And if Russell Wilson was efficient in 2023, as his contract indicates he should be, the team would not have to eat nearly $100 million in dead cap money.

And if you ask the average Broncos fan, they might tell you that George Paton is the primary culprit for where the Denver Broncos stand right now, and honestly, Paton might not be that person. If we consider the Russell Wilson situation itself, Paton might not own any of the blame. Not a sliver. No, frankly, all the blame should be put on Russell Wilson himself, not George Paton.

Firstly, the trade for Russell Wilson; when it was made, the move was clearly the right one to make. The 2022 QB class in the NFL draft was just horrible, and Russell Wilson was still seen as a top quarterback in the NFL. Go back to where you were when Wilson was traded to the Denver Broncos; didn't you feel excited and happy? No one would have given a rip about what the Broncos gave up to acquire Wilson had the QB played like he once did.

No one should really fault George Paton for trading for Russell Wilson; it was a good process to get the franchise QB, who was just 33 years old at the time of the trade. The big fish in this whole equation, though, is the contract extension that Russell Wilson signed. It's been well-documented that the Denver Broncos ownership pushed for and wanted the extension to get done. There's really nothing out there to say that George Paton was eager to lock-up Russell Wilson for the long-term.

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So, Paton at the time, (rightly) made the decision to trade for Russell Wilson and was then told by his bosses to give him a contract extension. And Russell Wilson did not perform well enough. He did not perform at a high enough level that his contract demanded of him. This whole debacle that will see the Denver Broncos eat a ton of dead money and then likely parting with more veterans is not the fault of George Paton, but rather Russell Wilson.