Minnesota Vikings Assistant General Manager George Paton will be the Broncos' new general manager.
Paton will have his hands full this offseason with the Broncos, from re-signing safety Justin Simmons to determining QB Drew Lock's future. Here's Paton's to-do list as Denver's new GM:
Von Miller's contract
At the top of Paton's to-do list is Broncos star outside linebacker Von Miller. Heading into 2021, Miller's future in Denver is in question as his contract has a club option that the team can pick up or not. Denver can free up $18 million if they let Miller walk and it'll cost them approximately $22 million if they pick up his option. The Broncos could also potentially reach a new, cheaper extension with the 10-year vet, which some believe is the most likely option.
Re-signing Justin Simmons
If Miller is No. 1 on the to-do list for Paton, safety Justin Simmons is 1A. Simmons is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and one of the Denver's top priorities, as he's become one of the best safeties in the NFL. Simmons is coming off his best season, with a career-high five interceptions and being selected to his first career Pro Bowl. The Broncos could franchise tag Simmons for the second-straight season or make him one of the highest-paid safeties in the league next year.
Denver's 12 unrestricted free agents
Simmons isn't the only unrestricted free agent this offseason, Denver has 11 others. Here's a look at each of the Broncos' 12 unrestricted free agents that Paton will have to decide whether or not to bring back:
- OLB Jeremiah Attaochu
- CB De'Vante Bausby
- TE Jake Butt
- OLB Anthony Chickillo
- RT Demar Dotson
- DE Shelby Harris
- LB Joe Jones
- S Will Parks
- S Justin Simmons
- DE DeMarcus Walker
- DL Sylvester Williams
- RT Elijah Wilkinson
Determining Drew Lock's future
Quarterback Drew Lock will certainly be one of the biggest topics Paton addresses and was probably asked about during his two interviews. Lock is entering his third season with the Broncos and has been inconsistent in his 18 starts, throwing 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. With a quarterback-heavy draft and rumors swirling about Deshaun Watson's future in Houston and Matt Stafford's in Detroit, Paton could take a serious look at moving away from Lock. President of Football Operations John Elway has expressed a lot of confidence in the former 2019 second-round draft pick.
Replacing Matt Russell
While hiring a general manager has been the Broncos' main priority over the last week or so, replacing their Vice President of Player Personnel Matt Russell is next on their list. Paton will definitely have a say in who the Broncos bring in. A couple of candidates will likely be the Broncos' Director of Pro Personnel A.J. Durso and Director of College Scouting Brian Stark, who interviewed for the GM position. Also, don't count out Chicago Bears Assistant Director of Player Personnel and former Broncos front office executive Champ Kelly, who also interviewed for the GM job. Whoever it is, they'll have big shoes to fill as Russell has spent 11 years with the Broncos and turned down an opportunity to interview for general manager.
The draft is over three months away, but with the Broncos having the No. 9 overall pick, Paton will have a lot of player evaluations do. The Broncos will have several options, including to move up or back in the draft. With a deep cornerback and linebacker class, it would make sense for the Broncos to go defense, but will Paton try to take one of the class' top quarterbacks instead? Read here 10 players Paton and the Broncos might consider taking in the first round this year.