ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There has been so much speculation about what new Broncos’ general manager George Paton will do about his quarterback position, he decided his quarterback should hear from the source.
Paton called Drew Lock on Monday.
"I sure did. I talked to him yesterday and had a great talk," Paton said in a sit-down interview with 9NEWS. "And he’s chomping at the bit. He can’t wait to get out here and start working. What a great kid and really enjoyed talking with him."
Paton didn’t assure Lock he would be the Broncos’ Game 1 starting quarterback in 2021, or tell him he would bring in legitimate competition through either free agency or the top round or two in the draft.
"No, we just talked about what his offseason is going to look like," Paton said. "What is he going to work on. And those type of things. He wants to be great. And that’s all you want to hear if you’re in my chair. He wants to be great and we’re going to give him the resources to be great."
9NEWS tried to go a little deeper into Paton’s mind about his opinion on Lock, who is talented and young but also finished 32nd among NFL quarterbacks in passer rating in his first full season as the Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2020.
While serving as assistant general manager for the Minnesota Vikings in the offseason entering 2018, Paton was part of the decision that essentially fired Case Keenum after his career year lifted the team to a 13-3 record and NFC Championship Game, and replaced him with the above-average Kirk Cousins. If he didn’t think Keenum was good enough in 2017, why wouldn’t Paton try to upgrade the Broncos’ quarterback position after Lock’s 2020 performance?
"You try to upgrade every position," Paton said. "And you try to bring competition for every position. And it’s no different with the quarterback. Speaking on Drew specifically, I have not spent a lot of time studying him. I’ve watched a few games. Like a lot of young players he was up and down. I kind of look at this as a rookie year for Drew. And a rookie year where he had no offseason and a rookie year where he had a new offensive coordinator. So I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. I do think he has a lot of upside but you’re always looking to upgrade every position and it’ll be no different here."
A non-committal position is different from what the Broncos’ previous GM was on Lock.
"I’m still high on Drew," John Elway said as the team’s president of football operations Tuesday. "George will go through that whole process, and if there is an ability for us to get better at that position and better than we think we have, then George will make that decision. … We’ll all be looking at them and Vic (Fangio) will be looking at them—trying to find that guy that can step in and be successful at that position. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the franchise guy, but he has to allow us and give us the chance to win and be able to make plays to give us a chance to win.
"That’s where the quarterback situation is. It’s a very difficult position to find. Drew did a nice job this year, but George will continue to look to fill that spot if we don’t think that Drew is that guy."
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