BRONCOS

The Broncos hiring of Hackett is all about acquiring Rodgers

Jan 28, 2022, 6:42 AM
Aaron Rodgers...
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

In his first year as Broncos general manager, George Paton earned the reputation of playing it safe. Well, that’s over with.

This offseason, Paton isn’t playing it safe. The hiring of Nathaniel Hackett proves the 2022 offseason will look much different than the 2021 offseason.

The night before the 2021 draft, Paton traded for Teddy Bridgewater. Then on draft night, instead of drafting his quarterback of the future at the ninth-overall pick, Paton drafted cornerback Pat Surtain II. Surtain wasn’t the splashiest draft pick, but he was the safe pick. Bridgewater was less reckless than Drew Lock and solid a game manager (safe). In addition to being safe, Paton had previous relationships with Surtain and Bridgewater proving he values the connections he has made in the NFL.

Based on how Paton operated last offseason, the assumption was that Dan Quinn would be the next Broncos head coach. Quinn had previous experience (safe) and had a prior relationship with Paton. It was obvious Quinn was coming to Denver.

Wrong.

Paton is taking the big swing we’ve all been waiting for. Paton hired Hackett to be the Denver Broncos head coach.

Hackett’s only qualification that matters is that he spent the last three seasons as Aaron Rodgers’ offensive coordinator. Yes, he’s respected, but without Rodgers association, it’s hard to say for certain if the Broncos hire Hackett.

Paton has been signaling (he can’t say it directly) to Broncos Country since April that his plan is to bring Rodgers to Denver. The Hackett hire intensifies that notion.

Let’s not pretend there is any other reason other than the Rodgers connection the Broncos needed to hire Hackett. He was the offensive coordinator for the Hall of Fame quarterback the Broncos have been linked to since last April.

There isn’t any other way to look at it.

Paton is all in on Rodgers and he’s betting his entire reputation on it. Hiring Hackett as the next Broncos head coach was the riskiest move Paton could have made. Hiring Hackett and then not landing Rodgers will be more deflating than draft night 2021 for Broncos Country.

Fair or not, many are reading the hiring of Hackett as a precursor to Rodgers coming to Denver. If Rodgers does not come to Denver and the Broncos are forced to go with a less-than-exciting option at quarterback, people could sour on this hire very quickly. Leading many question Paton’s judgment.

Since draft night 2021, Broncos Country has been chasing the dream of Aaron Rodgers in blue and orange. Hiring Hackett isn’t going to slow down this excitement. Paton isn’t stupid; he knows the pressure is on him to deliver.

Either Paton is sure he’s going to bring Rodgers to Denver or he has total trust that Hackett can succeed without Rodgers. Either one is a big gamble.

After approaching his first offseason in the safest way possible, Paton has pushed all his chips to the table with this coaching hire. Hackett has the experience, attitude and respect of his players to get him an interview as a head coach, but his most appealing quality to the Broncos is that he knows Rodgers.

Paton has backed himself into a corner with the hire of Hackett, but the good news is that he’s willing to make the bold move. Paton could have very well hired Hackett off merit, but that’s not the perception.

The perception is Hackett was hired to lure Aaron Rodgers to Denver. If the Broncos don’t trade for Rodgers, then there will be enormous pressure on Hackett and Paton to prove that Hackett was the correct hire. But without Rodgers, Broncos fans will must see success before buying into Paton’s vision.

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The Broncos hiring of Hackett is all about acquiring Rodgers