ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Bradley Chubb era in Denver is over.

Before Tuesday morning, while the Broncos had received calls about their star pass rusher, George Paton was not ready to move on from the former No. 5-overall pick.

But that changed just hours before Denver sent Chubb to the Dolphins, along with a 2024 fifth-round pick, in exchange for a 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 fourth-round pick and running back Chase Edmonds.

“It really heated up this morning,” Paton said, discussing the blockbuster trade. “Teams had been calling throughout the—I would say the last week or so. This morning or when things heated up—I didn’t anticipate a deal getting done and then this morning, they heated up.”

With Denver’s season not going as planned, and riding a four-game losing streak heading into Sunday’s game against the Jaguars, it became more and more likely the Broncos were going to be sellers, not buyers, at the trade deadline.

However, after trading Chubb, Paton made it clear Denver’s 3-5 record didn’t have an impact on the deal.

“We would have made this trade regardless,” Denver’s general manager said, when asked if he still would have made the trade even if the team was 5-3. “We just felt the value was too good, we believe in our young depth and we believe in our defense. Moving forward, we have other holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball. We would have made this trade regardless.”

Unlike the Broncos’ 3-5 record, which Paton said didn’t factor into the decision to move on from the Pro Bowl pass rusher, there were two key reasons why Denver made the biggest move in the NFL on Tuesday.

The first is the Broncos’ depth at outside linebacker. The second is their desperate need for premium draft picks.

“We believe in the depth we have at outside linebacker and our young pass rushers,” Paton stated on Tuesday. “We’ve invested a lot in that position.”

In the offseason, Denver’s biggest move in free agency and in the draft were both at outside linebacker. The Broncos locked up Randy Gregory to a massive five-year, $70-million contract and then used their first pick in the draft on Nik Bonitto.

But Denver’s outside linebacker room doesn’t stop there. In fact, it’s still a deep room, especially with the emergence of Baron Browning, who has been a star since transitioning from inside backer to the outside this year.

Paton said the emergence of the outside linebackers in the first eight games of the season “no doubt” helped Denver deal Chubb.

“The play of Baron, really the entire season, and then Nik Bonitto is coming on. You saw what he’s done the last few games,” Paton said about Denver’s young pass rushers. “Jonathan Cooper, you’ve seen what he’s done the last two years in his role. Randy Gregory, when he was healthy, [he was] one of the better pass rushers in the league and he’ll be back, we’re hoping soon. We traded for Jacob Martin, who’s going to be another depth piece, a guy who can play special teams and can do multiple things. He can drop in coverage, and he can rush them. [He’s] another depth piece there, so that’s certainly contributed to us making a trade of this magnitude.”

The other reason why Paton made the move was to bolster the team’s draft capital for 2023.

When acquiring Russell Wilson in the offseason, Paton, notorious for stockpiling draft picks, had to give up two first-round pick and two second-round picks for the nine-time Pro Bowler. That left the Broncos without a pick until the third round in the 2023 draft.

By moving on from Chubb, Denver now has a first-round pick back. That was essential in making the deal.

“We would not have done it without a first-round pick,” Paton stated without hesitation. “That was obviously a key piece of negotiation.”

Although Denver traded with the Dolphins, they acquired the 49ers’ 2023 first-round pick. That pick is currently the 20th-overall selection in the NFL Draft.

While on the surface, the Broncos’ big-time move on Tuesday appears to be a play for the future, Paton made it clear he isn’t throwing in the towel on the 2022 season.

“Our goals haven’t changed and we feel we can still win moving forward,” Paton stated. “We feel we have depth at the outside linebacker position, we have a top-five defense and 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.”


Zac Stevens was born and raised in Denver, went to the University of Denver and now covers the Denver Broncos. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from DU in 2014, Zac worked for the Cleveland Browns as a remote scout. He then jumped straight into the journalism industry at the beginning of 2016 covering the reigning world-champion Broncos and joined DNVR soon after. Catch him on Twitter @ZacStevensDNVR and daily on the DNVR Broncos podcast as the co-host.