Who really is in charge of the Denver Broncos front office?

Denver Broncos Introduce Sean Payton as Head Coach
Denver Broncos Introduce Sean Payton as Head Coach / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

After the conclusion of the NFL Draft, we now look to Broncos OTAs and training camp as the team prepares for a new era of Denver Broncos football in 2023. However, one topic of discussion that has recently cooled down in the media and has been a very interesting debate, is who truly runs the show in the Broncos' front office?

While it is evident that GM George Paton holds the power to make any decision he pleases at the end of the day, new head coach Sean Payton has crept in with a much bigger role than fans may realize. Judging by how the draft was maneuvered and how the front office operated throughout the process, it is very fair to assess that Payton has a major 'say' in roster decisions made by the organization for both the players and coaches.

No Cameras for the Denver Broncos

One interesting part of the draft process was how the Broncos' war room had almost no cameras or media availability. There's even been no videos released of the Broncos war room, not to say they won't be released later on however, it is still a topic to entertain. Are the Broncos hiding something or is it simply to prevent teams from gathering information based off of Denver's draft process? It could definitely be both.

Broncos fans are very accustomed to the "got the call" clips for draftees however, none of that has been released this year as it typically has in the past. Going into the head coach search in January of this year, many rumors and reports surfaced claiming that wherever Sean Payton landed, he was seeking power and a larger role in terms of making front office decisions, similar to how Patriots head coach Bill Belichick operates in New England. However, after becoming Denver's 20th head coach in franchise history, he quickly refuted the report stating that he isn't seeking a GM-esque power.

Fast forward four months and things don't seem to be trending that way in the front office. If anything, it feels as if Sean Payton is a co-GM to George Paton, even though Darren Mougey serves as the organization's assistant GM, not that it is a bad situation at all. If anything, with Payton's experience and knowledge being around the NFL for so long, it is a great benefit that he is very involved in building the roster and coaching staff, considering he is ultimately responsible for the product that is put on the field come week 1.

When I think of how Sean Payton and George Paton work together, a fair comparison is Batman and Robin. There's a clear alpha voice and leader in the pair. It is not a reach to say with the lack of cameras around, there's a very strong possibility that Sean Payton is in fact the Batman of the two and is calling the shots to build the 53-man roster he desires. Beforehand, when Nathaniel Hackett was titled as head coach, there was never any doubt that George Paton was constructing the roster and making all the final decisions. Following a poor 5-12 season in 2022, new CEO Greg Penner and HC Sean Payton seemed to have stripped a slice of that power Paton once had. So far, it's working out.

Different Draft Approach

In his first two years as the Broncos GM, Paton has been known for his tendency to gather as much draft capital as he can to gear up for any potential future trades if they presented themselves. Paton has even stated in the past that he prefers to have "10 draft picks" heading into each draft therefore, shares a completely different philosophy as opposed to what Sean Payton believes. However, in no way does this mean they are butting heads, if anything, means they can balance their strategies to find the team's best outcome during draft weekend.

During draft weekend, we learned a lot about the Pa(y)ton duo and how they will complement each other not only in the war room but in the front office. In Payton's last 13 drafts, he has made a total of 22 draft-day trades while not trading back a single time. In Paton's first 2 drafts as GM of the Broncos, he has traded up twice while trading back 4 times to recoup draft picks. During the 2023 NFL Draft, the Broncos traded up twice while trading back and acquiring TE Adam Trautman in the process, which obviously was a Sean Payton move, given his past experience coaching the former 3rd round pick in New Orleans. Therefore, all of these moves indicate Sean Payton driven decisions based on past tendencies between the two.

No Player/Coach Interviews

After the hiring of new coordinators Joe Lombardi and Vance Joseph, fans anxiously waited for introductory press conferences to learn the new philosophy the coaching regime will be implementing in the 2023 season moving forward however, Sean Payton had different plans.

As expected, there will not be any interviews or press conferences any time soon for any of the Broncos hires or draft picks as Sean Payton is emphasizing a focused, head-down, hard-working mentality for the team heading into OTAs.

I had the chance to speak with a current starter on Denver's defense to set up an interview on the Broncos Avenue Podcast before the media eventually informed him he had to wait. "Some of our media guys talked to me the other day and wanted us to wait another couple weeks before talking to anyone..." the anonymous player said. Sean Payton is very stern and set on not allowing his players to create any distractions or noise ahead of their important stretch of off-season work.

Payton's approach has essentially been a 180-degree flip from what was in Denver's front office and coaching staff a year ago. And while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, clearly what was being run last year by George Paton and Nathaniel Hackett did not work, especially the team's practice approach. Payton has put his foot down and made it clear things are going to be done his way however, doesn't mean George Paton is against it or opposed to it.

All in all, considering Payton's stark decisions by essentially removing Russell Wilson's personal coaches from the facility, limiting media availability/player interviews, and changing the organization's draft approach, it is very fair to infer that Sean Payton is the alpha leader and decision maker in terms of building the roster from here on out. However, that isn't to say that George Paton isn't playing a huge factor in those decisions and providing an educated voice and input to help make the best possible decisions for the franchise in a collaborative manner.

Next. Denver Broncos full 2023 NFL Draft recap. dark