By Brandon Krisztal
The Broncos have found their man. It's not easy replacing John Elway, but Vikings Vice President of Player Personnel and Assistant GM George Paton is going to do his best to not just replace Elway, but as Broncos Country hopes, exceed Elway's success.
Paton was chosen over Terry Fontenot, Saints GM, who, like Paton had a 2nd interview yesterday.
Broncos President Joe Ellis along with Head Coach Vic Fangio, Chief Communications Officer Patrick Smyth, dined with Paton along with Elway and "Elway's Steakhouse" in Cherry Creek Tuesday night.
Paton returned home to Minnesota, and agreed to a 6 year contract Wednesday morning.
Elway said in statement, "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."
As you might imagine, Paton is excited to take on the challenge of re-building the Broncos, who have missed the playoff for the last 5 seasons.
Ellis, like Elway is looking forward to Paton taking on this new role overseeing the day-to-day football operations saying in a statement, "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."
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.
As I reported, Paton, who will be the team's 13th General Manager in franchise history is expected to be introduced Tuesday. He's set to return to Denver Saturday and settle into his new office at UC Health Training Center as he begins to assemble his personnel staff.
Beyond figuring out Broncos players to sign, or re-sign, and all other moves that accompany being GM, Paton also has to fill the role of Assistant GM and/or Vice Player Personnel that Matt Russell held before retiring last week.