Paton accepted a position as the general manager of the Denver Broncos, left vacant by John Elway on Jan. 4, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported. Paton, who also served as the vice president of player personnel, has been considered “one of the league’s most universally respected personnel” executives, per Tom Pelissero, and instrumental to the Vikings scouting department.
ESPN’s Courtney Cronin called the move a “huge loss” for Minnesota, adding that “Paton has been a massive part of the Vikings personnel department for years.”
Paton has had the most interviews for general manager of any executive in the league over the last five years. He even turned down an offer to join Kevin Stefanski with the Cleveland Browns last offseason.
Paton’s departure breaks up the trio of general manager Rick Spielman, vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski and himself as the Vikings’ longtime lead executives.
For 14 years of dedication and hard work, the Vikings can’t thank you enough, George.
We wish you nothing but the best with the Denver Broncos. pic.twitter.com/oZi1NODEMQ
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) January 13, 2021
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The Vikings’ Best Talent Evaluator Could Bring Several Others With Him
The Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran reported that a league source said Paton may try to bring Minnesota’s director of college scouting Jamaal Stephenson to Denver as his assistant general manager. Paton and Stephenson have worked together for 14 years, while Stephenson has worked for the Vikings since 2002.
Cronin added that Stephenson is not the only scout who could depart for Denver after several conversations over the past week. It seems Minnesota’s personnel and scouting departments could be in for a bigger shakeup than expected with Paton’s departure.
Paton as an executive has been a force in the organization for years and was considered the Vikings’ best talent evaluator.
“As one source told me years ago when I inquired about the thing when I joined the beat, Paton is widely considered their ‘best evaluator of talent,’ ” Cronin said. “Some will argue it’s not even close. Not in the public eye often, but he’s very much what makes up the muscle of the football side.”
Vikings Replacements for Patton
Cronin speculated that Vikings Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Monnens would be in line for the promotion to fill the void left by Paton. Assistant Director of Pro Scouting Reed Burckhardt would fill Monnen’s position in the event there is an internal promotion.
However, with speculation surrounding who may depart for Denver with Paton, no one is a clear candidate to take his job.
Cronin reported that the members of the scouting department with expiring contracts may not be let go in time to join Paton dependent on whether Minnesota will void their deals.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.