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'With a guy like Russell, we can do a lot': How Wilson's performance as an opponent helped convince the Broncos to trade for him

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — General Manager George Paton and Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett knew plenty about quarterback Russell Wilson before he ever joined the Broncos.

Wilson's presence on the opposing sideline informed them quite well about the player they're now teamed up with in Denver.

"That he won," Paton said Sunday when asked what stood out about Wilson. "That he always beat us. You can just see. You get to the game early, you watch his approach to everything he does. He's on the field early, gets the receivers out there. You just see the leadership and his ability to win football games. Even if the game's ugly and he brings them back, [like] in the 2015 playoff game against us. He just wins. He can beat you in so many different ways — with his arms, with his feet. He's a winner."

If Paton's quote about always losing to Wilson felt hyperbolic, it's not. Wilson was a perfect 7-0 against the Vikings during Paton's tenure there, including a 10-9 playoff win.

Hackett held a 3-0 record as a coordinator against Wilson, but he's also seen how the nine-time Pro Bowler can impact the other team's offense.

"He's [a] nightmare guy," Hackett said. "You go against him, you know you're always going to need more points, even if there's two minutes left and you're up by two touchdowns, you feel like you have to keep pressing it because when you have a quarterback of his caliber out there, it's never over till it's over."

In Denver, Hackett said he'll merge the system he's bringing from Green Bay with what Wilson does well to create the Broncos' system.

"With a guy like Russell, we can do a lot," Hackett said. "And I think that's exciting."

Since the Broncos officially traded for Wilson, Hackett's conversations with him have centered around developing a relationship that will be critical to the Broncos' success.

"I think right now it's really been about getting to know each other," Hackett said. "We don't talk really much football. We're going to save that for April. But I think right now it's just trying to get to know each other as people, as fathers, as husbands. It's just been a great time."

The Broncos, though, have already seen the sort of impact Wilson can have in their building. Wilson recently hosted several of his teammates for a throwing session, and Paton said he believes that sort of mentality will rub off on other players.

"Obviously he's talented, but the work he puts in [stands out]," Paton said. "He's obsessed with winning, as I've mentioned, and you see it. You see it when you look at the videos of our players down there. That's hopefully going to spread with our team and resonate with the football team, and I know it will."

Soon enough, the Broncos will get to see Wilson's impact on the field, even if some of the details need to be worked out. Hackett said Sunday he would deliver the game-day play calls to Wilson directly — rather than relaying the play to an assistant to deliver to Wilson — but he said the team hasn't decided where Offensive Coordinator Justin Outten and Quarterbacks Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Klint Kubiak will be on game day.

The specifics of the system also remain to be seen, but after playing against Wilson, the Broncos' leaders knew they wanted him on their side.

"It was a unique opportunity for us to get a franchise quarterback," Paton said, "and we did."

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