John Elway was a tough negotiator during his time as general manager of the Denver Broncos, and that helped put the team in good stead on the salary cap when George Paton took over as the new general manager.
However, Elway’s harsh tactics had some drawbacks.
Chris Harris, who probably should have finished his career in Denver, left in free agency. Derek Wolfe walked too. Justin Simmons, one of the best safeties in the NFL, couldn’t land a long-term contract. Shelby Harris, one of the best defensive linemen on the team, was allowed to try free agency before returning with a team-friendly contract.
After Paton’s arrival, he quickly made Simmons the highest-paid safety in the NFL and gave Harris a three-year extension. Paton also picked up outside linebacker Von Miller’s contract option. It’s hard to imagine Elway giving in to a 32-year-old Miller coming off a serious injury.
Paton let Miller win a look down, presumably because he believes bringing back the team’s star players is more important than saving salary cap space. Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton and outside linebacker Bradley Chubb are scheduled to become free agents in 2022. Those players can rest assured Paton will reward them if they produce on the field and open the field.
“I was talking about it with Court in the locker room,” Harris said at his press conference on March 19. “This is big for him, big for Chubb and all the youngsters. Show that if you go out and play, the Broncos will take care of you. That is the culture change we are talking about. This is the family.
“Justin is the highest paid safety, and that’s what he deserves. Go out there and play, and they’ll give you what you deserve. That is the right message you want to send to your players. “
Simmons echoed Harris’s comments at his own press conference.
“We have guys here that I think can really play, younger guys. Boys like Courtland, boys like Chubb, boys like Noah [Fant]”Simmons said on March 22.” I think it’s important for them to see that they are going to be cared for if they play at the level that they have been playing at. Just make sure they keep doing the things that they need to do and they will take care of them.
“That’s always important because a lot of the game is much more mental than I think a lot of people tend to believe. For those guys who go out week after week and know they are risking their bodies and knowing that whatever happens, I will give 100 percent. That work is reflected in my productivity in the field and they will take care of me. “
Paton has set a precedent that his goal is to keep the team’s best players in town, something Elway didn’t always do if it meant paying.
That doesn’t mean Paton will never look for ways to save cap space (he turned down Kareem Jackon’s option and then got the safety back on a cheaper contract), but it does mean that he will prioritize retaining the brightest young stars on the team. on the list .
“His [nice] to reward their own and lead them to the second contract as Shelby, “Paton said Monday. “There will be others. It’s really nice to reward the players who deserve it, and Justin definitely deserved it. “