Broncos GM George Paton lays out offseason plans in candid press conference
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KKTV) - Denver Broncos General Manager George Paton made his priorities clear for the offseason-- keep talent in the Mile High City.
In one of his first offseason chats with the media, Paton laid out his plans regarding a number of starters. He discussed candidly his goals for star players such as Von Miller and Justin Simmons, while also addressing the quarterback situation. Here’s a rundown of Paton’s priorities:
Paton stressed that the Broncos want the fan favorite back at Empower Field in 2021. Miller is 31 years old, and missed all of last season with an ankle injury. He is in the last year of a six-year contract, and keeping Miller around would likely require resigning him now. Miller is also facing murky legal trouble, and is currently under criminal investigation by the Parker Police Department (a suburb of Denver). The details of the probe have not been released, but the outcome of that investigation could throw a wrench into Miller’s future with the Broncos.
“We want to bring Von back and we’re still working through that,” Paton said. ”I don’t want to get into everything, but we want to bring him back. Obviously, the legal process and what he’s going through, it’s a serious situation. I don’t know all of the details, but we respect what’s going on. We do want Von back.”
The Broncos star safety played last season on the franchise tag and is still looking for a long-term deal. Paton outlined reaching an agreement as one of his priorities heading into the new NFL season. Simmons led the Broncos with five interceptions in 2020.
“Justin is one of our core guys,” says Paton. “Our goal since I got here is to sign him to a long-term deal. We have had discussions with his agent. I don’t know if we’ll get a deal done or not, but that’s our goal. He’s the type of guy we want to extend.”
Lindsay is a restricted free agent this offseason, and the Broncos are expected to tender the young running back. Linsday joined the Broncos as an undrafted free agent and quickly exceeded expectations, becoming the first undrafted player in NFL history to post 1000-yard seasons in his first two years in the league. The Broncos still have to decide how to tender Lindsay, possibly paying him more to make sure another team doesn’t scoop him up before an extension can be agreed upon.
“We’re still working through Phillip,” Paton said.” Phillip is a good player and very passionate. He had some injuries last year and he brings energy and juice. He’s a restricted free agent and we do plan on tendering him. I’m not sure at what level but we want Phillip here.”
Another solid secondary piece, the cornerback’s value to the Broncos has risen with the departure of A.J. Bouye. Jackson staying in the Mile High City would require Denver to exercise an $11 million team option. Paton dismissed the idea that the Broncos couldn’t afford both Simmons and Jackson, and said there has been good conversations regarding keeping him around.
“I’ve spoken with Kareem and I’ve spoken with his agent Jason Chayut,” Paton said. “We have to work through some things, but we’ve had positive conversations. We would like Kareem back. He’s a good football player and a good leader. We’ll see if we can do that.”
Paton was less forthcoming on the future of linebacker Bradley Chubb. Chubb was the first round pick for the Broncos in 2018, and is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Before that happens, the team must decide whether to offer Chubb his fifth-year option, keeping him in Denver through 2022. Chubb played 14 games in 2020, recording 7.5 sacks and 26 solo tackles.
“It’s only March. We’ll get into that,” Paton said. “We’re in draft meetings now. We just finished free agent meetings. We have free agency coming up in a week or so and then the draft. We’ll have those discussions after the draft. Bradley is a kid that we obviously want to be here long term.”
Keep Drew Lock, or test the quarterback waters across the league? Paton offered the typical GM line that the Broncos plan on taking the “best available” player with their 9th pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Questions have swirled around the long-term viability of Lock as quarterback for the Broncos, but Paton says he likes the trajectory Lock is on.
“I did a deep drive on Drew. Like I said in my [introductory] press conference, he’s very talented. He was inconsistent at times and has a lot to work on, but I’ve spoken with Drew. I see him every day. He’s here early and he’s working. He really wants to be great. We’re always going to try and bring in competition to every position, the quarterback as well. I like the trek that Drew is on.”
The new NFL league year officially begins March 17th, which is when free agency signings can begin. The NFL draft is set for April 29 - May 1.
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