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NFL Rumors: Latest on Broncos GM George Paton's Future After Nathaniel Hackett Fired

Adam WellsDecember 26, 2022

CENTENNIAL, CO - APRIL 22: Denver Broncos GM George Paton during a pre-draft press conference at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse April 22, 2022. (Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)"n"n
Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

George Paton's status as general manager of the Denver Broncos could be up in the air after the team parted ways with head coach Nathaniel Hackett on Monday.

Per CBS Sports HQ's Josina Anderson, Paton has told others and understood he would be "under evaluation over the back half of this season."

Broncos CEO Greg Penner announced today the team parted ways with Hackett after a 4-11 start, and he will lead the search for a new head coach "with support from our ownership group and George [Paton], whom I have confidence in as our general manager."

Denver Broncos @Broncos

We have parted ways with Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett.<br><br>A statement from Broncos Owner &amp; CEO Greg Penner: <a href="https://t.co/1tWMjHv6em">pic.twitter.com/1tWMjHv6em</a>

Hackett's tenure came to an end after a 51-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas Day. The offense only gained 323 yards and committed four turnovers, including three interceptions by Russell Wilson.

Prior to being hired by the Broncos in January, Hackett spent the previous three seasons as offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. His reputation was largely built on having a close relationship with Aaron Rodgers.

"It's bittersweet losing Nathaniel just because I love him like a brother," Rodgers told reporters in February. "He's an amazing, amazing guy."

Hackett appeared in over his head as a head coach right out of the gate this season. He opted to try a 64-yard field-goal attempt on 4th-and-5 late in the fourth quarter in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks rather than try to let the offense pick up a first down.

That decision came after Hackett let about 40 seconds tick off the clock after the third-down play ended with 1:03 remaining, despite having all three timeouts remaining. Brandon McManus' kick missed in a 17-16 loss.

Broncos fans counted down with the play clock during a Week 2 home game against the Houston Texans after the offense took multiple delay-of-game penalties. There have been multiple incidents captured on camera of teammates appearing to be frustrated with Wilson.

Defensive tackle Mike Purcell was seen yelling at Wilson during a Week 12 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Both players downplayed the issue while speaking to reporters after the game.

Wide receiver Courtland Sutton was very animated during a play when Wilson didn't throw to him for what would have been a modest gain (Greg Dulcich beat Jalen Ramsey for what could have been a big gain and possibly a touchdown, but the pass was underthrown and intercepted).

Paton is in his second season with the Broncos, but this was his first full season building things the way he wanted to. Vic Fangio was fired as head coach after the 2021 season.

Wilson has been a bust since being acquired from the Seahawks. He's completing a career-low 60.1 percent of his attempts with 3,019 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 starts.

The Broncos gave Wilson a five-year, $243 million extension in September that doesn't even kick in until 2024. He has dead-cap hits of $107 million in 2023 and $85 million in 2024 if the team tried to move on from him.

On top of how bad Wilson has been, the Broncos are currently projected to send the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft to Seattle as part of the trade.

This marks the seventh consecutive season that Denver has missed the playoffs. It's the second-longest streak in franchise history, trailing only a 17-season stretch from 1960 to '76.