His name is not often mentioned in the fan and media circles, but the Minnesota Vikings have one of the most “sought after” executives in the league in George Paton.
Paton joined the Vikings in 2007 and climbed his way to the vice president of player personnel and assistant general manager positions. He has had the most interviews with other teams since 2015, garnering interest and interviews with the Tennessee Titans (2016), Indianapolis Colts (2017), San Francisco 49ers (2017), Kansas City Chiefs (2017) and the Cleveland Browns (2020) along with several inquiries from the New York Jets over the years, per The Athletic.
His most notable accolades have been from a scouting and drafting perspective, helping assemble the Vikings defense that rose to become the league’s top unit in 2017, and since drafting offensive stars like Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson.
Paton has been a highly sought after league executive, garnering the most interviews over the past five years. Patton has interviewed with Detroit Lions for the general manager position left void after Bob Quinn’s firing, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, and finished an interview with the Denver Broncos on Friday.
Albert Breer reported that Paton is “a very strong candidate in Detroit” after Vikings general manager Rick Spielman gave a “glowing recommendation” to his brother Chris Spielman, who is a special assistant owner of the Lions following the fallout with the prior leadership.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said Paton has been one of the most universally respected personnel executives.
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Paton Not Keen on Leaving Vikings
While it may be alarming Paton is taking an interview with the Lions, his history and selective consideration for each job makes the announcement not a huge cause for concern.
Paton withdrew his name for the running for general manager of the Browns last year after former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who spent 13 years working with Paton, wanted Paton “in the worst way,” per Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. Paton’s withdrawal was considered a huge win for Minnesota’s front office.
Cabot reported several concerns of Paton’s that resulted in his staying put:
Paton, a top choice of new coach Kevin Stefanski, opted to remain with the Vikings because he had a number of issues he had to work through, and wasn’t entirely comfortable with how it would all play out. He left here on Thursday with some questions about the power structure and the division of labor. He also would’ve been the sixth GM of the Browns since 2012, and continuity was a big concern. In addition, as many as half a dozen GM jobs could open up next year, and he’s expected to have multiple opportunities. Paton was reluctant to accept the initial interview because he assumed the job would go Berry, a league source told cleveland.com. But he agreed to explore it for a chance to work with Stefanski.
It’s clear, after fielding many interviews over the years that Paton will not leave simply because there is availability. It has to be the right situation. Whether the Lions present that to Paton remains to be seen.
Paton Could Be an In-House Solution to Spielman
While Spielman was awarded a new three-year contract this past offseason, the Vikings’ general manager has been working as a front office member for 30 years and could be reaching the peak of his time in the league.
Paton has been an understudy to Spielman over the years as the two had worked together with the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears. Paton became director of player personnel in 2007 and eventually took Spielman’s role as vice president of player personnel in 2011 after Spielman was promoted to general manager.
Minnesota could look to Paton as an in-house solution to keeping much of the team’s infrastructure the same by promoting Paton when Spielman’s time with the team comes to an eventual end.
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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.