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INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 27: A Denver Broncos helmet sits on the bench before the start of the game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Inglewood, California.
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Broncos agree to terms with George Paton to be next general manager

(Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

 ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos have agreed to terms with 24-year personnel executive George Paton to be the team’s General Manager, President of Football Operations John Elway announced on Wednesday.

STATEMENT FROM PRESIDENT OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS JOHN ELWAY

        “Early in this process, it became clear why George has been such a coveted GM candidate for so many years. He is a proven evaluator who knows every detail of leading football operations. With his experience in all aspects of the job—the college and pro sides, salary cap, trades, working with the head coach and bringing the staff together—George is more than ready to succeed in this role. George has waited and worked for the right opportunity, which shows that he is smart and serious about winning. We’re thrilled to name George Paton as general manager of the Denver Broncos.”

 

STATEMENT FROM PRESIDENT & CEO JOE ELLIS

        “George is one of the most widely respected and experienced personnel executives in the NFL. He’s a composed, collaborative leader with a clear vision of building a championship team. Getting to know George over the last week, his intelligence, work ethic and leadership skills impressed all of us. He has worked nearly 25 years in the NFL to prepare for this challenge, and we are very fortunate to have George as our new general manager. We’re excited to welcome George, his wife Barbara and his children Bella and Beau to the Broncos family.”

 

STATEMENT FROM GENERAL MANAGER GEORGE PATON

        “It is an honor to be named General Manager of an iconic franchise with a championship tradition like the Denver Broncos. This organization has great resources, tremendous people, a talented young core of players and an outstanding coaching staff.

        “In many ways, I feel like this team is a sleeping giant. For me, it is the right place and the right time for this opportunity.

Throughout this process, I felt a real connection with Joe, John and Vic. It feels like home. We share the same values on winning and doing things the right way.

        “While it is difficult to leave the Vikings, the relationships I enjoyed in Minnesota are for life. I am truly grateful for the Wilf family, Rick Spielman, Rob Brzezinski, Mike Zimmer and the entire Vikings organization. Thank you for treating us like family.

        “I believe in hard work, the grind and not taking any shortcuts to achieve our goals. Drafting and developing players is the No. 1 priority. We will be aggressive—but not reckless—in adding talent to our roster.

        “Our family has heard nothing but great things about Colorado, especially the passionate fans in Broncos Country. Along with my wife Barbara and children Bella and Beau, we are proud to now call Denver our home.

        I can’t wait to get to work. Go Broncos!”

***

        Paton (pronounced: Peyton) has a wealth of NFL experience overseeing year-round personnel transactions while coordinating both college and pro scouting efforts. He joins the Broncos after most recently serving as Minnesota’s Vice President of Player Personnel/Assistant General Manager, a position he has held since 2018.

        Spending the last 14 seasons with the Vikings, Paton has worked directly with General Manager Rick Spielman on all salary cap and player acquisition decisions in addition to helping establish the team’s analytics department. He earned two formal promotions with the team, holding titles of Director of Player Personnel (2007-11) and Assistant General Manager (2012-20) before adding the VP of Player Personnel role in 2018.

        Prior to joining Minnesota, Paton spent six seasons as Director of Pro Personnel with Miami (2001-06). During his final two years with the Dolphins, he worked with Head Coach Nick Saban.

        Paton started his NFL career with Chicago in 1997 as a scouting assistant, ascending to Pro Scout from 1998-99 and Assistant Director of Pro Personnel from 2000-01.

        In Paton’s 14 seasons with Minnesota (2007-20), the Vikings made six playoff appearances—with six different starting quarterbacks—while winning four division titles and advancing to a pair of NFC Championship Games. He played a key role in the Vikings’ acquisition of 22 Pro Bowlers through the draft (15), college free agency (2), veteran free agency (4) and trade (1) during his time in Minnesota.

VIKINGS PRO BOWLERS ACQUIRED WITH GEORGE PATON ON STAFF

PLAYER

POS.

YEAR ACQUIRED

HOW ACQUIRED

Justin Jefferson

WR

2020

Draft – 1st Round

Kirk Cousins

QB

2018

Unrestricted Free Agent

Dalvin Cook

RB

2017

Draft – 2nd Round

C.J. Ham

FB

2016

College Free Agent

Eric Kendricks

LB

2015

Draft – 2nd Round

Danielle Hunter

DE

2015

Draft – 3rd Round

Stefon Diggs

WR

2015

Draft – 5th Round

Linval Joseph

DT

2014

Unrestricted Free Agent

Anthony Barr

LB

2014

Draft – 1st Round

Teddy Bridgewater

QB

2014

Draft – 1st Round

Xavier Rhodes

CB

2013

Draft – 1st Round

Cordarrelle Patterson

WR

2013

Draft – 1st Round

Adam Thielen

WR

2013

College Free Agent

Jerome Felton

FB

2012

Unrestricted Free Agent

Matt Kalil

T

2012

Draft – 1st Round

Harrison Smith

S

2012

Draft – 1st Round

Blair Walsh

K

2012

Draft – 6th Round

Kyle Rudolph

TE

2011

Draft – 2nd Round

Everson Griffen

DE

2010

Draft – 4th Round

Brett Favre

QB

2009

Street Free Agency

Percy Harvin

WR

2009

Draft – 1st Round

Jared Allen

DE

2008

Trade

        No team has selected more future Pro Bowlers (13) than the Vikings during the last 10 NFL Drafts. These selections include wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2020), running back Dalvin Cook (2017), defensive end Danielle Hunter (2015), wide receiver Stefon Diggs (2015), linebacker Anthony Barr (2014), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (2013), wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (2013), tackle Matt Kalil (2012) and safety Harrison Smith(2012).

        Paton has also shown an ability to find impact players outside of the first round, acquiring Pro Bowlers in Cook (2nd round- 2017), fullback C.J. Ham (CFA – 2016), linebacker Eric Kendricks (2nd round – 2015), Hunter (3rd round – 2015), wide receiver Adam Thielen (CFA- 2013), kicker Blair Walsh (6th round – 2012), tight end Kyle Rudolph (2nd round – 2011) and defensive end Everson Griffen (4th round- 2010).

        From 2012-2020, the Vikings made 26 first-, second- or third-round draft picks. Twenty four of the 26 players—an NFC-best 92.3%—drafted by Minnesota since 2012 were still playing in the NFL in 2020.

        Of the 15 first-round selected by the Vikings during Paton’s involvement with the team’s draft (2008-20), four rookies were chosen to the Pro Bowl—including Offensive Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin in 2009—while 14 players became primary starters in their initial seasons. From 2008-19, only five teams had more players selected to the PFWA All-Rookie Team than Minnesota (12).

VIKINGS PLAYERS SELECTED TO PFWA ALL-ROOKIE TEAM, 2008-19

PLAYER

POS.

YEAR ACQUIRED

HOW ACQUIRED

Percy Harvin

WR

2009

Draft – 1st Round

Phil Loadholt

T

2009

Draft – 2nd Round

Kyle Rudolph

TE

2011

Draft – 2nd Round

Matt Kalil

T

2012

Draft – 1st Round

Harrison Smith

S

2012

Draft – 1st Round

Blair Walsh

K

2012

Draft – 6th Round

Cordarrelle Patterson

WR

2013

Draft – 1st Round

Teddy Bridgewater

QB

2014

Draft – 1st Round

Stefon Diggs

WR

2015

Draft – 5th Round

Danielle Hunter

DE

2015

Draft – 3rd Round

Eric Kendricks

LB

2015

Draft – 2nd Round

Pat Elflein

C

2017

Draft – 3rd Round

        Coming off the second-best record in the NFC (50-29-1, .631) from 2015-2019, the Vikings re-tooled their roster in 2020 and used 15 selections—an NFL record for a seven-round draft. Minnesota’s draft haul included Jefferson, who was the only offensive rookie Pro Bowler this year after setting the NFL single-season rookie record for receiving yards (1,400). Chosen 22nd overall, Jefferson was selected with one of four picks that were acquired from Buffalo in an offseason trade for Diggs.

        In the five seasons preceding 2020, Minnesota earned three playoff appearances (2015, ’17 & ’19) and made the 2017 NFC Championship Game. Paton helped build three playoff teams during that span quarterbacked by Bridgewater (2015), Sam Bradford/Case Keenum (2017) and Kirk Cousins (2019).

        Following a berth in the NFC Championship and a 13-win season in 2017, Minnesota was aggressive in signing unrestricted free-agent Cousins to a three-year contract. He was named to the Pro Bowl during his second season with the team in 2019 and is the league’s seventh-rated passer (103.6 rtg.) during the last three seasons.

        Bridgewater, who was selected with the last pick of the first-round in the 2014 NFL Draft, led the Vikings to the postseason with an NFC North title and an 11-5 regular-season record in 2015. He would suffer a career-threatening knee injury during training camp in 2016, leading to Minnesota’s front office trading for Bradford during training camp.

        In 2012, the Vikings made their first of four playoffs appearances in the decade behind second-year quarterback Christian Ponder. Paton was also instrumental in the building of back-to-back NFC North Champions in 2008 and ’09 as the Vikings won the second-most games (22) in the NFL during that span.

        Quarterback Brett Favre, who was signed as a street free agent and chosen to his 11th career Pro Bowl in 2009, piloted the team to a 12-4 record and a spot in the NFC Championship Game. In 2008, Paton assisted in trading for defensive end Jared Allen, who would go on to make four Pro Bowls with the Vikings. Quarterbacks Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson split time as starters as the club would win 10 games that season.

       Paton was a four-year letter winner as a defensive back at UCLA from 1988-91 before playing professionally in Italy and Austria. He began his career as head coach of the sophomore football team at his alma mater Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

       Paton, 51, and his wife, Barbara, have two children: Bella (14) and Beau (11).

DENVER BRONCOS GENERAL MANAGERS / TOP PERSONNEL EXECUTIVES

EXECUTIVE

TITLE

YEAR(S)

Dean Griffing

General Manager

1960-61

Jack Faulkner

General Manager/Head Coach

1962-64

Fred Gehrke

Director of Player Personnel

1965-66

Lou Saban

General Manager/Head Coach

1967-71

John Ralston

General Manager/Head Coach

1972-76

Fred Gehrke

Vice President—General Manager

1977-80

Grady Alderman

General Manager

1981-82

Hein Poulus

Vice President—General Manager

1983

John Beake

General Manager

1984-98

Neal Dahlen

General Manager

1999-2001

Ted Sundquist

General Manager

2002-07

Jim Goodman

V.P. of Football Ops./Player Personnel

2008

Brian Xanders

General Manager

2009-10

John Elway

President of Football Operations/GM

2011-2020

George Paton

General Manager

2021-Pres.