It’s a borderline insult that George Paton gets to cut Russell Wilson

Mar 5, 2024, 4:00 AM

Denver Broncos GM George Paton has to feel like the luckiest man in town.

It’s truly shocking he still has a job. And a borderline insult to Broncos Country that he got to be the one to announce that Russell Wilson will be cut.

That news dropped on Monday afternoon, something that was expected, but still a bombshell nonetheless when the official statements were released.

Paton was the one who traded the house for Wilson.

Paton was the one who gave Wilson a contract extension worth more than $240 million before he ever played a snap in Denver.

Now, he’s the one thanking Wilson for his time with the Broncos?

The whole reason this will go down as one of the worst trades and contracts in NFL history is because of Paton, but he gets to fire Wilson while still having a job himself. Make that make sense.

Frankly, you can’t.

“We spoke with Russell Wilson today to inform him of his release after the start of the league year,” Paton and head coach Sean Payton wrote in a joint statement. “On behalf of the Broncos, we thank Russell for his contributions and dedication to our team and community while wishing him the best as he continues his career.”

Broncos owner / CEO Greg Penner is still relatively “new” to the job, but it might be time we drop that description. He’s overseen two full NFL seasons. He had the guts to fire the incompetent Nathaniel Hackett after just 15 games in 2022, so how does he not see Paton needs to go as well? Heck, he could’ve fired Paton for hiring Hackett in the first place.

It’s just another one of the mistakes on the long list of things Denver’s general manager has done wrong. The list of things he’s done right isn’t exactly compelling, either.

Sure, let’s throw in all the qualifiers. Paton is a good man. He means well. He’s certainly not tanking the franchise intentionally. But since when did any of that matter in a performance based industry?

If the late, great Pat Bowlen can fire Mike Shanahan, the best coach in Broncos history, nine years after winning two Super Bowls, then Penner can fire Paton. Heck, since Paton got to town Denver has a 20-31 record. None of those three years have included winning seasons and the Broncos haven’t made the playoffs.

For perspective, Shanahan got fired after going 24-24 from 2006-2008. Where are the great standards this organization used to have?

Not all of this is on Penner, of course. He inherited a mess after Bowlen put the team in a trust and then ultimately passed away. Still, if he’s going to tell Broncos Country he’s as impatient as we are, it’s beyond time to hold Paton accountable for the disastrous Wilson trade.

“The main message for Broncos Country that I would have is we’re just as impatient as you are to win here. We understand that we have a lot of work to do this offseason to get better,” Penner said at the end of the season press conferences on Jan. 9.

Okay, so that work so far means cutting Wilson and taking on an NFL record in dead money. That’s not exactly a banner start. And you can bet more household names will be cut or traded in the coming days. Those transactions will be to pay for this Wilson disaster, triggered by Paton.

It’s easy for fans and the media to call for jobs. No one disputes that. But in this case, it’s absolutely warranted. Paton shouldn’t be cutting Wilson. He put the Broncos in this position, and to think fans don’t know that is laughable.

March 4, 2024 will go down as a horribly disappointing day in Denver sports history. The only thing that makes it worse is that George Paton, the man who put the franchise in this mess, gets to continue to try dig them out of it.

If anything, though, George Paton might just make it worse. Penner should’ve already cut bait. And he can still make things right by doing it today. Or tomorrow. Or the day after that.


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