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Paton’s Spaces: What will the Broncos’ new GM do in free agency?

Does Paton’s history with the Vikings provide any clues?

Days after George Paton’s introductory press conference, I took a look at the draft history of the Minnesota Vikings during his tenure. I did so in part because while he didn’t have final say on the decisions, he worked under Rick Spielman so long that certain trends may emerge. Today, I thought it’d be a fruitful endeavor to pivot to the Vikings’ free agent signings over the same time frame.

It’s important to keep in mind that Paton has inherited a completely different personnel department than Minnesota’s. The game has also evolved in recent years, with more and more emphasis placed on the passing game. On top of all that, Fangio’s defense will have different needs than Mike Zimmers’.

Because of these factors, it’s hard to say with certainty if the Vikings’ free agent decisions since 2007 will be an informative predictor of the Broncos’ moves this year. At least right now, it’s also difficult to say they won’t be.

For the purpose of this exercise, I’m looking at the major free agent acquisitions and notable extensions as this will provide some idea as to how the Vikings chose to allocate resources. In order to maintain some degree of sanity, this is not an exhaustive list. I didn’t dig too deep into the fliers Minnesota took on bubble players, as every NFL team constantly churns the bottom of the roster. However, I did make a point to add a date when the transaction occurred, so if you see multiple years it’s because the player received multiple contracts.

There are a few exceptions such as Case Keenum, but my goal is to try to pin down what sort of “aggressive, but not reckless” decisions we can expect from Paton over his tenure in Denver.

The Broncos under contract as of 3/3/2021


Defensive backs

  • If you read the last Paton’s Spaces, you already know the Vikings have used more picks in rounds 1-3 on cornerback than any other position group during Paton’s tenure. Minnesota has placed a huge emphasis on defensive backs since 2007.


  • Minnesota drafted Greenway with the 17th pick of the 2006 draft, so Paton inherited him.
  • Henderson joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2008.
  • If you read the last Paton’s Places, you’ll already know this: Since 2007, the Vikings only ever spent two picks in the first three rounds on linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr*. When you factor in picks on the third day of the draft, the Vikings have spent 13 draft picks on linebackers since 2007.

*The Vikings have run a 4-3 system during Barr’s time in Minnesota so I chose to count him here.


  • The Vikings drafted Robison in the fourth round of the 2007 draft.
  • Everson Griffen was a fourth round pick in the 2010 draft. When he signed his five-year extension worth $42.5 million including $20 million guaranteed, it marked his first opportunity as a full-time starter.
  • In 2008, the Vikings made a blockbuster deal with the Kansas City Chiefs for Jared Allen. As part of the trade, they gave Allen a six-year deal worth $72.36 million, a record-setting deal at the time it was signed.

Defensive Line

  • Stephen is the only one of the Vikings’ draft picks to make this list.

Wide Receivers

Offensive Line

  • Reiff will count for $14.95 million against the cap this season.
  • Remmers signed a five-year contract, played one season at right tackle before sliding inside to guard. He played in Minnesota for two seasons.
  • Boone signed a four-year contract and lasted one season.
  • Sullivan was a 6th round pick in 2008 who wound up playing most of his extension with the Vikings.
  • Loadholt was a 2nd round pick in 2009.
  • If you’ve kept up with Paton’s Places, you already know the Paton Vikings only took four tackles on the first two days of the draft.

Tight Ends / Fullbacks

  • Released this week, Rudolph was drafted in the second round in 2011 and played for Pat Shurmur when he coordinated the Vikings’ offense.

Running backs


  • Keenum signed a one-year contract worth less than one million dollars to serve as the Vikings’ backup. An injury to Sam Bradford and questions about Teddy Bridgewater’s health pushed him into a starting role. He played so well that John Elway signed him to a two-year, $36 million contract.
  • The off-season following Keenum’s Minnesota Miracle, the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to a fully guaranteed $84 million contract.
  • Rosenfels was originally brought in to compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the QB1 job. When the Vikings signed Favre, it made their previous signing expendable and he was subsequently traded to the New York Giants.

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