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ENGLEWOOD, CO - MARCH 18: General Manager of the Denver Broncos George Paton introduces Broncos cornerback Ronald Darby and Broncos running back Mike Boone. The Denver Broncos hosted a free agency press conference at UCHealth Training Center"u2019s Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Eric Lutzens/The Denver Post)
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Clayton: It’s been a good offseason for George Paton

(Photo by Eric Lutzens/The Denver Post)

The Denver Broncos offseason program officially ended Friday, and it turned out to be a good one for the team.

One of the big reasons was new general manager George Paton. Paton had a great offseason trying to make the team better. Let’s review what he did.

Even though Paton had to find a quarterback to compete against Drew Lock, his first mission was to fix the defense. Last year, the Broncos defense ranked 21st in yards allowed and gave up 27.9 points a game.

Paton tried to get the defense younger, so he started by releasing two trade moves from last year that didn’t work out. He cut cornerback A.J. Bouye and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey. He did well by picking up the option on Von Miller. That was wise. And he made Justin Simmons the highest paid safety in the league.

He signed cornerback Ronald Darby to a three-year, $30 million contract. The big surprised was getting Kyle Fuller. Fuller was a cap casualty in Chicago. Because Vic Fangio was his defensive coordinator in Chicago, it was natural fit to bring him to Denver, even though that wasn’t in the plans.

Paton cut and re-signed safety Kareem Jackson, getting him back at $5 million on a one-year deal. Once they added cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the 10th pick in the NFL Draft, the Broncos now arguably have the best and deepest secondary in the league.

Even though injuries nagged three of the Broncos top four wide receivers, the Broncos have the sixth best pass-catching group in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Broncos wanted bigger, more powerful running backs. They like Melvin Gordon III, but Paton signed former Vikings backup halfback Mike Boone, who is also a great special teams player. In the second round they traded up for Javonte Williams, who is a fierce, powerful runner. They also have Royce Freeman. Gordon thinks this is one of best and deepest running back groups in the NFL.

Finally, the plan to find a quarterback to compete against Lock seems to have worked. Teddy Bridgewater has made Lock do better in minicamp and in OTAs. The beauty of everything is that the Broncos have plenty of cap room to acquire Aaron Rodgers if the Green Bay Packers try to trade him.

It’s been a good offseason.


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