Broncos hire George Paton as 13th general manager in team history

George Paton will be the 13th general manager in Broncos history, a source confirmed Wednesday.

Paton, who comes to the Broncos after working the last 14 years with the Minnesota Vikings, most recently as vice president of player personnel/assistant general manager, arrived in the Denver area on Tuesday morning for an in-person interview that lasted into the evening.

One of five candidates interviewed to replace John Elway, who moved into the role of president of football operations on Jan. 4, Paton brings more than two decades of NFL personnel experience to the Broncos. The source said the deal is for six years.

After a playing career at UCLA as a defensive back (1988-91), Paton played professionally in leagues in Italy and Austria. He returned to the United States to start his scouting career with the Chicago Bears and rose to assistant director of pro personnel in 2000. Paton was hired by the Miami Dolphins in 2001 as director of pro personnel, starting a long partnership with Rick Spielman, the current Vikings general manager who brought Paton with him to the Vikings in 2007.

Over the past several years Paton declined numerous opportunities to interview for general manager openings, opting to wait for the right fit and the right time. The Broncos checked both boxes. (Last week, he also interviewed with the Detroit Lions.)

The Vikings made the playoffs six times during Paton’s tenure, including NFC conference title-game appearances in 2009 (lost in overtime at New Orleans) and 2017 (lost at Philadelphia).

Working with Spielman, Paton’s Vikings showed an ability to draft and develop, but also be aggressive in the free agent and trade markets.

The Vikings acquired 22 Pro Bowl players at 12 different positions since 2008 (the first Spielman-Paton draft) — 15 in the draft, two undrafted free agents, four veteran free agents and one player acquired in a trade.

Among the Vikings’ best draft picks under Spielman/Paton: Defensive end Everson Griffin, tight end Kyle Rudolph, safety Harrison Smith, linebacker Anthony Barr, receiver Stefon Diggs, defensive end Danielle Hunter, linebacker Eric Kendricks, running back Dalvin Cook and receiver Justin Jefferson.

At the quarterback position, the Vikings have been aggressive, signing Brett Favre in 2009, trading for Sam Bradford in 2016 after Teddy Bridgewater’s serious knee injury and signing Kirk Cousins in 2018.

The Broncos’ final-say-on-personnel history leaned toward the head coach (Lou Saban, John Ralston, Dan Reeves, Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels) until late owner Pat Bowlen brought Elway back to the organization in 2011.

Elway had final say on all personnel moves during his 10 seasons, which included five AFC West titles, two AFC crowns and one Super Bowl win, but a tenure that wrapped up with five consecutive years out of the playoffs.

This story will be updated.

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