Sitting at 3-5, Denver general manager George Paton traded star edge rusher Bradley Chubb on Tuesday for a package that included a first-round pick, removing a major piece from a stingy Broncos defense.
Following the trade, Paton was asked if he would have made the same deal if the Broncos were 5-3 instead of 3-5.
“We would have made this trade regardless,” the GM insisted, per the official team transcript. “We just felt the value was too good, we believe in our young depth, and we believe in our defense. Moving forward, we have other holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball. We would have made this trade regardless.”
The Broncos did recoup stellar value for a former first-round pick, but it’s easy to say after the fact that Paton would have still sold high on the pending free agent if Denver started the season off hot.
While he declined to get into specifics of contract talks with Chubb and his representatives, the trade underscored the belief that Paton didn’t plan to sign the edge rusher with an injury history to a massive long-term deal.
Paton noted that the play of Baron Browning, Nik Bonitto, Jonathan Cooper, Randy Gregory and Tuesday’s deal with the New York Jets for Jacob Martin provide Denver ample options to help replace Chubb’s production.
“The message is that we believe in this football team,” he said. “We believe in the depth we have at outside linebacker and our young pass rushers. We’ve invested a lot in that position. We believe in the leaders on this football team, especially the defensive leaders we have in (defensive tackle) D.J. Jones, (linebacker) Josey Jewell, (safety) Justin Simmons and (safety) Kareem Jackson, just to name a few. We believe in this football team, we believe in our leadership and we believe in our depth. At the end of the day, we just felt it was the best thing for our football team moving forward.”
Despite selling off its most valuable asset, Paton believes his club can still turn it around — even with the offense struggling in Nathaniel Hackett’s first season with Russell Wilson under center.
“I would tell them our goals haven’t changed and we feel we can still win moving forward,” Paton said when asked what his message to the fans is regarding the trade. “We feel we have depth at the outside linebacker position, we have a top-five defense and we feel like the offense is trending in the right direction. We believe in our coaching staff, we believe in our players and we feel like we can make a push in the second half.”
That push will need to come quickly for the 3-5 Broncos following their Week 9 bye with games against Tennessee, Las Vegas, Carolina, Baltimore and Kansas City on the coming slate.