The Denver Broncos fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett on Monday. While his replacement will inherit a messy situation, the organization isn't prepared to make another big change.
In a team statement confirming Hackett's dismissal, Broncos owner & CEO Greg Penner said the organization remains confident in George Paton. The general manager will help lead the search for a new coach, an apparent signal that his job is safe.
Not many NFL observers were shocked to see Denver fire Hackett amid a 4-11 season. However, others believe Paton also deserves blame for the franchise's turmoil.
After all, Paton hired Hackett and oversaw a Russell Wilson trade and extension that looks disastrous in hindsight. Fans thus questioned the Broncos letting Paton choose another head coach, calling for someone who "didn't create this mess."
Despite Penner's vote of confidence, Paton may not have considerable job security. CBS News Colorado's Michael Spencer speculated that the GM is "on thin ice" despite no imminent change. Per Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, Paton is aware that he's "been under evaluation over the back half of this season."
The Broncos are stuck with Wilson and his massive cap hit through 2028, and the Seattle Seahawks have their first- and second-round draft picks in 2023. There's a steep uphill climb for whichever coach takes the job.
Those obstacles speak poorly of Paton, but he looks poised to get an opportunity to keep steering the sinking ship this offseason.