If George Paton had held his first in-person press briefing Thursday afternoon at Mile High stadium instead of Dove Valley, and the stands were filled with 75,000 Broncos barrel believers, the response in unison would have been the oft-shouted:
And Phillip Lindsay’s career here is complete.
G-Man Paton acknowledged that the Broncos are just getting started and that the season is months away.
This team isn’t prepared now to compete for a playoff position.
But, new cornerback Ronald Darby became the first to say for five years in Denver: “Super Bowl.’’
Paton reminded us the Broncos can acquire another quarterback in free agency, a trade or the draft. And the general manager emphasized that he would return to phone calls as soon as his reluctant meeting with the media concluded.
The Broncos have signed two unrestricted free agents who were on other teams in the NFL last year. One was Darby, who earned a Super Bowl ring with the Eagles in the 2017 season and missed major portions of the 2018-19 seasons because of injury. He did play all 16 games for the first time in a six-year career last season, with the football team that has no nickname.
Darby does have eight interceptions, one fumble recovery and 267 tackles. He is not a Pro Bowl candidate or a cornerback of many words or deeds — unlike Chris Harris Jr. or Aqib Talib, Louis Wright or Champ Bailey — but Darby will be a starter.
Paton really likes him, more so than the multitude of other free agent cornerbacks on the market. Paton liked him $30 million (three years) enough.
George also likes the other guy: running back/special teams specialist Mike Boone. Almost nobody in Denver has heard of him. Me, neither.
Boone was with the Vikings, Paton’s former team, for three years.
In fact, Boone told us he had worked out with Lindsay in Denver before the draft. Both were undrafted.
Boone also announced he was a wide receiver in high school and can catch the ball and is a one-cut back, which used to be the Broncos’ favorite concept under Mike Shanahan.
Boone has rushed 71 times for 379 yards and had seven receptions for 28 yards. He was a rarely-utilized backup to Dalvin Cook, from whom, he said, he learned a lot.
That duo can’t be described as “a haul,” but free agency is not over until Paton explains to everyone that it’s over.
Paton was more interested, obviously, in signing folks who had played for the Broncos, who haven’t been any good since Super Bowl 50.
Except Paton didn’t care much for Colorado’s own Lindsay. It was not a “Love Me Tender’’ relationship. After some conversations, the two side agreed to divorce. All Lindsay did was run for a thousand yards his first two seasons, but he didn’t play special teams. Boone better be a boon, not a bust. He already is not very popular in this area following Lindsay, whom everybody wishes well.
Paton has given Von Miller his March bonus, franchise-tagged Justin Simmons, and re-signed Shelby Harris to a three-year deal, and he will bring back inside linebacker Alexander Johnson.
But starting safety Kareem Jackson, Deshaun Watson’s personal confidante, has been dumped, although Paton offered Thursday that he could come back — apparently at reduced rate.
Thus, the Broncos likely will have 10 defensive players who’ve started for this or another team. However, they aren’t as deep as Cherry Creek Reservoir in the secondary, at linebacker and in the defensive line.
The free agent quarterback list, which has thinned considerably, lost another veteran Thursday with Mitch Trubisky agreeing to become Josh Allen’s No. 2 in Buffalo.
Colt McCoy, late of the Bills, is available, and the Broncos could bring Alex Smith back to the AFC West. Paton attended Trey Lance’s Show-and-Tell Day at North Dakota State and asserted Thursday he will study and see other quarterbacks who will be drafted.
Paton said the Broncos “have a plan’’ at QB. So did John Elway.
According to CBS.com, 16 teams have achieved higher grades in free agency than the Broncos. The Chiefs received an A, the Chargers A-minus and the Raiders B-minus. The Broncos were about average at – C-plus. The Broncos actually deserve an incomplete.
In George We Trust?