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A closer look at the draft-day trade histories of HC Sean Payton, GM George Paton ahead of 2024 NFL Draft


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Could the Broncos be on the move?

A slew of mock drafts have projected the Broncos will execute a trade and pick somewhere other than 12th-overall spot in this year's draft. But will they move up? If so, how far? Will they move back instead?

Ahead of last year's NFL Draft, took a deep dive into the past moves of Payton and Paton. In an attempt to provide context — and a hint of what to expect — before the duo's first draft together, the piece examined several aspects of their trade histories.

The detailed look included insight into the direction they usually traded, how often they moved, when those trades occurred and more.

And after conducting the 2023 NFL Draft together, there's even more information to parse through. That's particularly helpful as the Broncos prepare to make their first first-round pick since 2021.

Here, then, is a look at the three draft-day trades the Broncos made in 2023 — and how they fit or stray from previous Payton and Paton decisions.

[Editor's note: As was the case last year, these figures only include trades made during the draft. Other deals are not mentioned.]


The Broncos executed three trades in 2023, and the first two swaps helped Denver move up the board. Denver first sent the 68th-overall and 138th-overall picks to the Lions for the 63rd-overall and 183rd-overall selections. With the final pick of the second-round, the Broncos snagged Pro Bowler Marvin Mims Jr.

Just a few minutes later, Denver traded the 108th-overall pick and its 2024 third-round selection to Seattle to move back into the third round and select cornerback Riley Moss at No. 83.

Denver's lone trade back came on Day 3, as the Broncos sent the 195th pick to the Saints for tight end Adam Trautman and the 257th-overall pick.

The moves resembled Payton's strategy from New Orleans, as two of his three trade-downs with the Saints — all three of which came in his first two years on the job — involved receiving a veteran players as part of the deal. Payton also showed a propensity to trade up with the Saints, with all 22 of his draft-day trades in his final 13 seasons with New Orleans being moves up the board.


Three is the magic number for the Broncos in recent years.

For the third draft in a row — dating back to the start of Paton's tenure — Denver executed three draft-day trades.

Three draft-day trades also matches the previous high by Payton, who reached that total in 2020 and 2008.


The Broncos completed their first two trades on Day 2 last year, though their lack of a first-round pick may have played a role. Denver's final trade came in the sixth round.

Four of Paton's six draft-day trades entering the 2023 NFL Draft came in Round 3, and he added another to that category as the team acquired Moss. Payton, meanwhile, has made at least four trades in each round from the first to the fifth.


The Broncos' three trades all came with NFC teams, as Denver made deals with the Lions, Seahawks and Saints in 2023. Payton made a pair of trades with the Lions during his tenure in New Orleans, and Paton previously swapped picks with the Saints. For the first time on draft day, though, Payton and Paton executed a deal with Seattle. Paton had not previously formed a draft-day deal with the Lions in his first two years on the job.


The Broncos' trade for Trautman was Paton's first draft-day deal involving a player, though Denver acquired Teddy Bridgewater the day before the 2021 draft began. In New Orleans under Payton's guidance, the Saints made three draft-day trades involving players.


The Broncos showed a willingness to move around in 2023, as they made three moves with fairly limited draft capital. They moved up twice, secured a veteran player and worked the phones throughout the draft. The bigger — and perhaps unanswerable — question: How does this all apply to the first round?

Payton said at the 2024 NFL Annual Meeting it was a "realistic" option for the Broncos to move up, but it's hard to know if that's a preview of what to come or a draft season smokescreen.

And so, we're left with several questions.

Will Payton make a Round 1 move for the fifth time in his career? Will Denver trade down to pick up valuable extra draft picks? Will the team simply stay put and add a cornerstone piece at No. 12?

Until draft day arrives, it's anyone's guess.

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