Mar 19, 2021 | SPORTS | By Quinn Guevara | Illustration by Bibi Powers
The offseason in the National Football League can be crazy time for the 32 teams across the country. Teams are trying to evaluate the players whose contracts have expired and decide whether they want to re-sign them or let them go for another team. General managers need to evaluate their team’s needs and whether they can satisfy them in free agency or in the draft. The Denver Broncos are no exception.
The Broncos hired a new general manager this year, hoping to improve a roster with many needs. George Paton aims to improve the Broncos’ defense, which ranked towards the back end of the league last year, finishing 21st in total yards for and 25th in points for.
So far, he’s addressed the issue by signing six-year veteran cornerback Ronald Darby and resigning defensive lineman Shelby Harris, both to three-year deals. The team also decided to franchise tag pro-bowl safety Justin Simmons for the second year in a row.
The defense has been hit especially hard after exercising all pro linebacker Von Miller’s option. Through these difficult decisions on the defense, the Broncos organization is confident that Paton can bring together the vison that he has in mind for this team’s roster.
“I know he has a specific plan on what he needs to get accomplished when he gets there, and he gets going. I know free agency, the draft, understanding the roster — I don’t want to speak for him, but he’ll have a plan in place on what needs to be done and what needs to come to the forefront,” Rick Spielman, the general manager for the Minnesota Vikings said about his former colleague Patton. “The number one thing is always the personnel, that’s the lifeline of our organization, especially in the draft. We’ve always been big believers in building our rosters through the draft.”
Offensively, there are a lot of head-scratchers as well. Injuries riddled the Broncos offense, including their promising young starting quarterback, Drew Lock, who missed multiple games last season due to a shoulder injury.
Asked about Lock and whether he will consider another option at quarterback, Paton responded, “I haven’t studied him. I haven’t gotten into a lot of tape. I’ve only been here four days. I’ve watched enough tape to know he’s talented and he can develop.”
While their offense is very young and very talented, the Broncos have some questions at running back and tight end. Running back Phillip Lindsay is a restricted free agent after being placed on injured reserve during the 2020 season. Two young and unproven tight ends this past season leave the position open this upcoming season.
While the NFL is still very early in its free agency season, Paton and the Broncos organization are confident that they can turn around their disappointing 2020 season to a promising upcoming season.