Broncos hire Nathaniel Hackett, go under new ownership
Paton replaced Fangio with Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Though it will never be proven, it is a popular belief that Hackett was hired mainly due to his connection to Aaron Rodgers, who, one year later, the Broncos were still trying to pry away from Green Bay.
Hackett was an incredibly bad hire. In fact, he should be on a short list of worst coaching hires in league history. This called much of Paton's decision-making ability into question and rightfully so.
This hire began to erode the foundation of the organization at this point but before that could happen, the Broncos were sold to new owners. The Walton-Penner group paid a record price at the time to take over the Broncos from the Bowlen family.
They walked into a big mess.
Hackett didn't even make it out of his first season, being dismissed the day after Christmas with the Broncos looking like one of the worst teams in the league. But earlier in that year, Paton made another mistake.