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Saturday January 23rd, 2021 9:42AM

Broncos hire ex-Vikings exec Paton as Elway's GM successor

By The Associated Press

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — John Elway's replacement as Broncos general manager will be Vikings executive George Paton.

Elway announced the hiring Wednesday. Denver hasn't reached the playoffs since winning Super Bowl 50 five years ago.

Paton spent the last 14 seasons with Minnesota, including the last six as vice president of player personnel and assistant general manager. He's been one of the hottest names on the GM circuit in recent years.

Elway called Paton "a proven evaluator who knows every detail of leading football operations.”

Paton will report to Elway, who is keeping his role as president of football operations.

Paton was one of five candidates the Broncos interviewed, including Patriots executive Dave Ziegler, who withdrew his name last weekend to stay in New England in an expanded role.

The other candidates to succeed Elway were Saints executive Terry Fontenot, Bears executive Champ Kelly, and in-house candidate Brian Stark, the Broncos’ college scouting director.

Elway announced last week he was moving into more of an overseer role in 2021, with coach Vic Fangio and the new general manager reporting to him.

Paton will be in charge of the draft, free agency and roster, but Elway will have a say in the bigger decisions facing the franchise.

The Broncos search committee consisted of Elway, Fangio, team president Joe Ellis and chief communications officer Patrick Smyth.

The Broncos are coming off an injury-riddled 5-11 season and are mired in a four-year run of losing records, their worst stretch in the Super Bowl era.

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Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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