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Paton on QB search: 'We like Drew Lock. We do want to bring in competition. We're not going to force it.'

Broncos GM said there's been progress on Simmons' contract talks. Believes Von will have Pro Bowl-type season.

DENVER — Just about all the top free-agent quarterbacks have now signed elsewhere, leaving Broncos Country to wonder where its next passer is.

Keep in mind, trades are allowed. Trades can even occur while free agents are signing.

"We’re monitoring it," Broncos general manager George Paton said Thursday at an in-person press conference to introduce new starting cornerback Ronald Darby and backup running back Mike Boone at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse.

But Paton did not introduce a new quarterback.

"We’ve evaluated all the quarterbacks," he said. "We like Drew Lock. We have a plan in place and there’s free agency, there’s the draft, there’s trades, there’s a lot of ways to acquire a quarterback.

"Fortunately, we have a quarterback here and we have a nice quarterback room. We do want to bring in competition. We are not going to force it."

Lock is a young quarterback with a strong arm, good mobility and 17 games of starting experience. But his body of work to date has been too inconsistent. Paton also acknowledged there’s a chance the Broncos will use their No. 9 overall draft pick on a quarterback. He attended Trey Lance’s Pro Day at North Dakota State last week. Up next on the Pro Day schedule are Alabama’s Mac Jones on Tuesday, BYU’s Zach Wilson on March 26 and Ohio State’s Justin Fields on March 30.

"It is in play for quarterback,’" Paton said of the No. 9 pick. "Yes, I'll be out a lot looking at all positions, but definitely quarterback."

>>Video above: Pros and cons of Broncos' Drew Lock and other QB possibilities

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos free safety Justin Simmons warms up before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Simmons contract talks

The Broncos have been trying to convert Justin Simmons’ $13.73 million franchise tag salary to a multiyear contract that figures to push the $14.75 million annual average of Arizona’s Budda Baker, the league’s highest-paid safety. The Broncos were hoping to get it done before the start of free agency this week rather than endure the customary wait period until the July 15 deadline.

But for the second consecutive year, the Simmons’ camp has proven to be tough negotiators.

"I think we’re making progress," Paton said. "I don’t know when it will happen, but I believe we are making progress and that’s been a priority since I’ve gotten here."

Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip
Denver Broncos strong safety Kareem Jackson talks to the media following an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Houston.

Bronco Bits

Paton said he "left the door open for Kareem (Jackson) to come back" but they couldn’t work out a contract restructure that included a pay cut. Jackson, the starting safety opposite Simmons the past two years, was released in lieu of his $10 million salary in 2021. He has drawn interest from multiple teams. …

Paton took a different tact with Von Miller. Like Jackson, Miller refused a pay cut. But unlike Jackson, Paton kept Miller for $18 million this year. "The tape I’ve watched, he still had the juice before he got injured," Paton said, referring to Miller’s season-missing torn-ankle tendon injury in September 2020. "Pass rushers are a premium and he’s special. He’s a special pass rusher. You look at some of the great pass rushers of all time, they’re rushing the passer well into their 30s. Von has been working and I think he is going to have a Pro Bowl-type season."

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