ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In the wake of the Broncos' decision to agree to terms on a trade that sent outside linebacker Bradley Chubb to the Dolphins, General Manager George Paton was quite clear.
The move is not a white flag, and it's not a sign that the Broncos are giving up on the 2022 campaign.
Instead, Paton said Tuesday, the team's expectations have not changed — even as the Broncos move forward without Chubb and with a 3-5 record.
"The message is [that] we believe in this football team," Paton said. "We believe in the depth we have at outside linebacker, 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 D.J. Jones and Josey Jewell and Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, just to name a few. So we believe in this football team, we believe in our leadership, 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."
The Broncos will receive a 2023 first-round pick as part of the deal, and Paton said the compensation — which also included a future fourth-round pick and running back Chase Edmonds — was "too good to pass up."
"It's going to help us continue to build our football team," Paton said, "but one thing's for certain: our goals, our expectations, they do not change. We want to win, and we believe we can win, and, more importantly, we want to sustain success, and it's going to help us continue to build this football team moving forward."
Paton said it was not easy to part ways with Chubb, who he credited as a player and leader. The Broncos' GM called Chubb "a total pro," and said Denver wishes him the best as he moves forward in Miami. Paton wasn't even sure there would be a deal to make. Until Tuesday morning, Paton believed the Broncos were going to move forward without a deal. While he did not reveal the specific nature of the negotiations, he said the Broncos would not have made a trade that did not include a first-round pick as part of the compensation.
A first-round pick, though, made the deal hard to pass up — and he said the team would have made the deal whether they were 5-3 or 3-5.
"We would've made this trade regardless," Paton said. "We just felt the value was too good. We believe in our young depth, we believe in our defense. Moving forward, we have other holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball. We would've made this trade regardless."
The Broncos' depth includes: Randy Gregory, who was among the league's top pass rushers before suffering an injury in Week 4; Baron Browning, who thrived in his transition to outside linebacker; Nik Bonitto, a second-round pick with 1.5 sacks in his last two games; Jonathon Cooper, a second-year player with defensive and special teams experience; and Jacob Martin, who the Broncos agreed to terms on a trade for on Tuesday, as well.
"[He's] going to be another depth piece, a guy who can play special teams, can do multiple things, can drop in coverage, you can rush him," Paton said. "… So [the depth] certainly contributed to us making a trade of this magnitude."
With the Broncos' depth and leadership, Paton said he feels confident the team's standards do not have to change over the remainder of the 2022 season.
"We feel we have depth at the outside linebacker position," Paton said. "We have a top-five defense. 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."
KEEPING THE OFFENSE INTACT
While the Broncos had teams reach out about their young wide receivers, Paton said Denver was motivated to keep the core group of players together.
"We received a number of calls on our receivers, some other positions," Paton said. "We wanted to keep our young, talented receivers. We started to get some rhythm in the last game vs. Jacksonville. We just feel good with where we're going. We're trending in the right direction with Jerry [Jeudy] and [KJ] Hamler and Courtland [Sutton]. We didn't want to break that up. I think we have a good thing going. We're in it to win it moving forward, and so we kept all of our receivers."
The Broncos also did not trade tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who has been inactive since Greg Dulcich returned from injured reserve.
"We like Albert," Paton said. "He's young, he's talented. We feel we wanted to keep Albert. He has a lot of upside and he can help us in obviously the pass game and he's getting better as a blocker. We like Albert. We wanted to keep Albert here. We believe in Albert. I know he hasn't played much lately, but we're going to need him in the second half of the season."
A NEW-LOOK RUNNING BACK ROOM
The Broncos agreed to add Edmonds as part of the Chubb deal, but the dual-threat running back will not have an impact on Melvin Gordon III's status, according to Paton.
"It doesn't affect Melvin at all," Paton said. "It just brings more competition. I think Edmonds complements what we have. He's a little different than what we have in Melvin. We like Melvin and he's still [going to] be our starter. Him and Latavius [Murray] will rotate, and this will be another piece to the puzzle. This will be a good complement."
Gordon and Murray each scored a touchdown in the Broncos' Week 8 win.