When George Paton took over as the Denver Broncos general manager, succeeding franchise icon John Elway, he was fully aware he had a recently repaired Ferrari in the garage. Paton’s decision to keep up the payments on his expensive supercar came in the form of exercising the $17.5 million option on Von Miller's contract.
The fan-friendly move owed much to the Broncos' healthy salary cap that Elway shrewdly handed down to Paton on his way out the door and up the stairs at Dove Valley. That being said, Paton also quickly proved that he isn’t simply looking to curry favor with his new fanbase, as driven home by the GM's controversial decision to sever ties with hometown hero Phillip Lindsay.
After picking up Miller's option, Paton seems far from having any kind of buyer’s remorse, especially after seeing the ‘Vonster’ doing his thing on the practice field.
“Von looks like he’s in his prime,” Paton told the team website last week. “You watch him in practice—they run wind sprints—he wins them. He wins them all. He’s 32 years old. He’s a freak, he still looks like it. He can still play, he’s in shape, he’s working hard. I’m excited to see what he can do.”
Paying big dollars to keep an iconic player around can backfire, and Paton’s decision was made more difficult because Miller missed all of last year due to an ankle injury. Only time will tell whether Paton's decision will translate into on-field production for the Broncos, but the feel-good factor injected into the locker room is already self-evident, according to kicker Brandon McManus.
“He’s kind of like a glue. A lot of guys will come, and they’ll get stuck to him,” McManus said of Miller. “He has an infectious personality; it’s fun. He loves to work, as you guys know. He’s been training for two years now, unfortunately, last year with him getting hurt, training his butt off out there in California, and he’s never looked better.”
Early into Paton’s tenure, he will be forever married to his decision to put faith in Miller having not just some, but plenty left in the tank. Double-digit sacks and a return to the playoffs in 2020 might even land Miller NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors and make Paton’s gut instinct well worth trusting moving forward.
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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