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Paton says he wants Von, Simmons, Kareem, Shelby, Lindsay all to return

Broncos new GM had praise for QB Lock, but said he would try to bring in competition.

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — There is no NFL Combine this year, but the NFL did encourage teams to hold their usual “combine” news conferences with their respective general managers and head coaches.

The Broncos’ public relations department complied, starting with putting new General Manager George Paton on a Zoom with the local media.

> Above video: George Paton settles into his new job in January 2021.

With free agent negotiations beginning in 11 days, the franchise tag deadline for Justin Simmons just five days away, guaranteed options on Von Miller and Kareem Jackson due in 10 days, and tenders for restricted free agents Phillip Lindsay, Tim Patrick and Alexander Johnson also up in 11 days, Paton sounded as if he wants everybody back.

Oh, and Drew Lock and the Broncos’ quarterback room may also be 11 days away from getting resolved.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller waits to take part in drills during an NFL football practice Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, at the team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
  • Paton on outside linebacker Von Miller’s $7 million guaranteed option of an $18 million scheduled payout that needs to be exercised by March 16 and how Miller’s criminal investigation that is now under review by 18th Judicial District’s District Attorney John Kellner could impact the decision. Negotiations on a restructured contract have yet to begin, perhaps because Paton has yet to decide whether to attempt a pay cut/restructure, an outright release, or a picking up the option and staying with status quo.

“We’re still working through it with Von and his agent (Joby Branion),’’ Paton said. “In regards to the legal process, we’re going to let the legal process play out. Obviously it’s a serious situation but we want to let it play out before we comment on that.

“We want to bring Von back. Obviously the legal process, it's a serious situation. I don't know all the details, but respect what's going on. But we do want Von back."

Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Drew Lock before an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021.
  • Paton on bringing in competition for Lock (the team did make a trade offer for Lions QB Matthew Stafford, who was instead was dealt to the Rams):

“Obviously did a deep dive with Drew. Very talented, was inconsistent at times. Has a lot to work on. I’ve spoken with Drew, he’s here every day. He’s here early. He really wants to be great.

“We’re always going to try and bring in competition at every position and quarterback as well. But I like the track that Drew is on.”

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos free safety Justin Simmons covers against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
  • Paton on working out a long-term deal with the free safety Justin Simmons before he gets slapped with a $13.73 million franchise tag on Tuesday: 

“Justin’s one of our core guys. Our goal since I got here was to sign him to a long-term deal. So we’ve had good discussions with his agent. I don’t know if we’ll get a deal done or not but that’s the goal and he’s the type of guy we want to extend.”

Credit: AP Photo/Adam Hunger
Denver Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris before an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J.
  • On talking with the agent for Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris: 

“Yes, Ryan Williams is a great agent. I’m close with Ryan. I’ve spoken with him about Shelby. Shelby is a priority in free agency. We’d love to have Shelby back. He’s a really good football player, he’s a good person. I’ve spoke with him, I spoke with him early. He’s a guy we definitely want back.”

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos strong safety Kareem Jackson (22) against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
  • On picking up the $1.5 million option on safety Kareem Jackson’s $10 million payout in 2021: 

“I’ve spoken with Kareem, I’ve spoken with his agent, Jason Chayut. We’ve got to work through some things but we’ve had positive conversations. We would like Kareem back. He’s a good football player. He’s a good leader and we’ll see if we can do that.”

Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James (70) stretches during NFL football training camp in Englewood, Colo.
  • When the Broncos signed Ja’Wuan James to a right tackle record four-year, $51.15 million contract, he was 26 years old. After missing the past two seasons because of injury and COVID opt-out, he will be 29 for the start of training camp when he is finally ready to contribute this season.

“I’ve had a good discussion with Ja’Wuan and his agent Bill Johnson. He’s ready to go. He said he missed football and he’s looking forward to getting here and being with his teammates and I’m looking forward to meeting him and seeing him play.”

  • On releasing veteran cornerback A.J. Bouye and defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, saving the team more than $23 million in cash for 2021:

“Those guys are pros, they’ve been in the league a long time. Just felt it was best to release them early so they could go out and get on the market before other players get cut. Those guys are great players, great careers and we just wanted to get them out there early.’’

  • On running back Phillip Lindsay: 

“Phillip’s a good player, very passionate. Obviously had some injuries last year. He’s a good player, brings energy, brings juice. He’s a restricted free agent, we do plan on tendering him. I’m not sure what level, but we want Phillip here.”

  • On restricted free agent receiver Tim Patrick and inside linebacker Alexander Johnson: 

“We’re going to tender both those players. Again, I’m not sure which level but two good football players that we look forward to being here in the future.”

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