George Paton

GM/Coach Notes: Broncos, WFT, Jaguars, Chargers, Dolphins

George Paton was introduced as the Broncos general manager today, and the executive gave a thoughtful response when explaining how he’d help to reestablish a winning culture in Denver.

“There’ll be no shortcuts,” Paton said (via the team website). “We’re going to embrace the day-to-day [process], we’re going to embrace the grind, and we’re going to do it together. … We’re going to be progressive, we’re going to be innovative, we’re going to be forward-thinking and we’re going to use all the information at our disposal to make the best informed decisions.”

Paton also noted the importance of hitting in the draft and being innovative in their evaluation of potential acquisitions.

“Drafting and developing players will be our foundation,” Paton said. “It’s going to be the lifeblood of this football team.”

Paton joined the Broncos on a six-year deal. Under the restructured front office, Paton and head coach Vic Fangio will report to John Elway, who will have less to do with the team’s day-to-day roster decisions.

Let’s check out some more GM and coaching notes…

  • Washington previously interviewed Eric Stokes for their open general manager vacancy, reports Jason La Canfora (via Twitter). The 47-year-old has been working in NFL front offices since 2002, including stints with the Seahawks, Buccaneers, Dolphins, and Panthers. He joined Washington as their director of pro scouting this past summer. We learned yesterday that Washington is expected to ultimately hire former Panthers GM Marty Hurne for the position.
  • Scott Linehan and Joe Cullen will interview for the Jaguars open coordinator positions this week, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). We learned of Urban Meyer‘s interest in both coaches this past weekend. Linehan, who’s candidate for the offensive coordinator gig, has had a long coaching career, including a stint as the head coach of the Rams. Cullen, a candidate for the defensive coordinator opening, has served as Baltimore’s defensive line coach since 2016. Rapoport notes that Raheem Morris was also a candidate for the defensive coordinator opening, but we’ve since learned that Morris will be taking the same role with the Rams.
  • The Chargers won’t be retaining offensive line coach James Campen, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Campen spent more than a decade with the Packers, and following a one-season stint with the Browns, Campen joined the Chargers as their offensive line coach this past offseason. However, he won’t stick around, as Schefter notes that new head coach Brandon Staley will be bringing in his own OL coach.
  • The Dolphins have parted ways with offensive line coach Steve Marshall and promoted Lemuel Jeanpierre to the role, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Marshall has spent more than a decade coaching in the NFL, and he joined Miami this past offseason. Jeanpierre has spent time on the Seahawks, Raiders, and Dolphins coaching staffs, serving as Miami’s assistant offensive line coach in 2020.

Broncos Notes: Miller, Paton, Lock

Broncos LB Von Miller is the subject of a criminal investigation in Parker, CO, as Mike Klis of 9News.com was among those to report (via Twitter). Parker police would not comment on the nature of the investigation, though a report from FOX 31 suggests that it pertains to domestic abuse allegations levied against Miller by his ex-fiancée. The Broncos issued a statement indicating they are aware of the situation and are in the process of gathering more info.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, a decision on whether charges will be filed will not be made for several weeks. Obviously, any allegations of domestic violence are serious and outweigh any on-field concerns, but Miller’s future with the Broncos was already in doubt. He missed the entire 2020 campaign due to an ankle injury, and though he earned Pro Bowl honors in 2019, his eight sacks that year marked a career low (aside from a five-sack effort in 2013, when he played in just nine games).

Klis reports in a full-length piece that the Broncos will ask Miller to take a pay cut. The soon-to-be 32-year-old is due a $17.5MM base salary in 2021 — the last year of his current contract — but carries a $22.225MM cap charge due to an earlier restructure. Denver could release him and create $18MM in cap space, and given that Miller is unlikely to earn $17.5MM on the open market, he may be amenable to a reduction in pay. If the domestic allegations are substantiated, he can definitely bank on a suspension.

Now for more from the Mile High City:

  • In the same piece linked above, Klis examines the most pressing questions for new GM George Paton. Paton and HC Vic Fangio will report to John Elway in the team’s revamped power structure, but Paton will have control over personnel matters. One of his first orders of business — aside from the Miller issue — will be to sort out the Broncos’ QB situation. Veteran signal-callers like Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson may or may not be available on the trade market, and even if a blockbuster trade doesn’t happen, Klis expects Paton to bring in legitimate competition for incumbent passer Drew Lock. Paton will also have the No. 9 overall pick at his disposal.
  • The contract situation of safety Justin Simmons will need to be addressed as well. Simmons and the Broncos were unable to come to terms on a multi-year contract last offseason, so the newly-minted Pro Bowler played out the 2020 season under a $11.4MM franchise tag. Klis suggests that Simmons could adjust his asking price on a long-term deal given the expected decrease in the 2021 salary cap, and he also says a second tag — worth about $13.7MM — could be in play.
  • Saints vice president of pro personnel Terry Fontenot was the runner-up to Paton in the Broncos’ GM hunt, as Klis tweets. Denver was able to convince Paton — who had been a hot GM candidate for years — to finally leave Minnesota, but the club was certainly impressed by Fontenot, who is now said to be the Falcons’ top choice for their GM vacancy.

Broncos To Hire George Paton As GM

The Broncos found their new GM. Vikings exec George Paton is finalizing a six-year deal with Denver, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). 

Paton has rebuffed interview opportunities and job offers for years, citing his love of living in Minnesota. This time around, the Broncos’ offer was too good to pass up. Just recently, Paton seemed to be on the verge of becoming the Browns’ next GM, but he ultimately backed out. The Jets also made a strong push to hire him before Paton said no.

There were other interesting candidates in the mix, including Bears exec Champ Kelly, who has history with the Broncos. Still, Paton was their top target. Under the new structure, Paton and head coach Vic Fangio will report to John Elway, who will have less to do with the team’s day-to-day roster decisions. Elway was responsible for luring Peyton Manning to the team and helping to build a championship-caliber defense. But, things went downhill after Super Bowl 50. With Paton in charge, the Broncos believe they can work their way back to the top.

Saints exec Terry Fontenot and Broncos director of college scouting Brian Stark were also up for the job. Patriots assistant player personnel director Dave Ziegler was in the mix too, but ultimately backed out.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2021 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

This year’s NFL GM carousel figures to be more active than usual. The Falcons, Lions, Panthers, Texans, and Jaguars are all on the hunt for a new front office leader. And that’s only the official list. The real tally shows six clubs looking for a GM, since the Washington Football Team is expected to install a GM to work alongside head coach Ron Rivera. By mid-January, we could easily see a couple more jobs opening up — that’d put ~25% of the NFL on the market.

We’ll keep track of the GM candidates for each club here, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make general manager changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here’s the current breakdown:

Updated 1-19-21 (7:02pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers 

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Washington Football Team

Latest On Lions GM Search

Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes is in Detroit for a second interview, which will occur Tuesday. He is the first such GM candidate to meet with the Lions a second time during this cycle. He may not be the only exec the Lions meet with twice.

The Lions want to bring Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Saints execs Jeff Ireland and Terry Fontenot back for second meetings, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (on Twitter). Detroit also added Indianapolis assistant GM Ed Dodds to its interview list, meeting with him Tuesday. The Lions were evidently impressed, with Breer noting they would like to speak with Dodds again.

Dodds recently bowed out of the wide-ranging Panthers GM search, leaving only the Lions pursuing him. The former Seahawks exec may be connected to another ex-Seattle staffer. The Lions have been connected to 49ers DC Robert Saleh about their HC vacancy for weeks, and the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers notes some believe Dodds would want to bring Saleh with him to Detroit (Twitter link). Saleh and Dodds were both with the Seahawks from 2011-13, though Saleh was only a defensive quality control coach at that point.

A Michigan native, Saleh interviewed for the Lions job last week but remains in the mix for other gigs — a list that now includes Philadelphia. Saleh has also been connected to an Adam Peters HC-GM pairing, but Peters is not a Lions GM candidate.

Paton and Fontenot remain in the mix for the Broncos GM post, having booked second interviews with Denver. While the longtime Vikings exec has been quite particular in past GM searches, he has remained a sought-after candidate. Fontenot, who interviewed for the Jets’ GM job in 2019, and Ireland — the former Dolphins GM — each went through virtual interviews for the Detroit job last week. Holmes is a Falcons finalist as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

George Paton, Terry Fontenot Get Second Broncos Interviews

Vikings’ Assistant GM/VP of Player Personnel George Paton will have a second meeting with the Broncos on Tuesday, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Ditto for Saints assistant GM Terry Fontenot, per Mike Klis of KUSA (Twitter link).

Bears exec Champ Kelly and Patriots assistant director of player personnel Dave Ziegler are among the other external candidates for the position. Ziegler has since backed out, opting to stay in New England. The Broncos also interviewed their own college scouting director, Brian Stark, though it’s not clear if he’s still in the running.

Fontenot has also been considered by the Lions, Jaguars, and Panthers in this cycle. The 40-year-old has been with New Orleans for 16 years. Paton, meanwhile, has been a hot GM candidate for some time. But, in years past, he rebuffed a number of opportunities.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

George Paton Withdraws From Panthers GM Search, To Meet With Broncos

George Paton will honor the Broncos’ interview request but will bow out of what has become a wide-ranging Panthers GM search.

The Panthers were interested in the Vikings’ assistant GM, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes (on Twitter) Paton will not pursue that job. This is certainly not unusual for Paton, who has been selective in recent years.

In this Minnesota role for over a decade, Paton most recently withdrew from the Browns GM search. He was viewed as the frontrunner for that post, which would have entailed working alongside longtime Vikings assistant Kevin Stefanski. Paton has interviewed for other GM jobs in recent years and will meet with the Lions. Paton’s Broncos interview will occur Friday, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets.

While Paton is in the mix for the Denver GM job, a clearer Detroit path may be emerging. Recent Lions front office hire Chris Spielman, who is assisting with the franchise’s GM search, received a strong recommendation on Paton from his brother, Vikings GM Rick Spielman. This is not exactly surprising, with Rick Spielman and Paton having worked together in multiple cities for the much of the past two decades.

The Broncos are searching for a GM for the first time in 10 years. John Elway‘s decision to step away from the personnel side has led to multiple ex-Broncos staffers being rumored as replacements. Denver submitted interview requests for Bears exec Champ Kelly and Patriots staffer Dave Ziegler. Kelly will join Paton in interviewing for the Denver GM job Friday, Breer adds. 49ers player personnel VP Adam Peters is also a rumored target. Paton’s background differs from the other candidates, having not worked with the Broncos previously.

Broncos Request GM Interviews With Patriots’ Dave Ziegler, Vikings’ George Paton

The Broncos are moving forward with their search to bring in a new GM. They have requested to interview Patriots assistant director of player personnel Dave Ziegler, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The team also submitted a request to meet with Vikings assistant GM George Paton, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

While Ziegler has spent much of his career as a Pats exec, he began his NFL run with the Broncos. He joins Nick Caserio as Pats execs sought by other teams for GM posts. The Patriots already lost Monti Ossenfort to the Titans last year and could see multiple execs depart their front office soon.

This marks the first Ziegler GM interest to surface. The 43-year-old exec has risen from the scouting level to director of pro personnel to his current post. The Patriots promoted Ziegler to assistant player personnel director last year.

Interestingly, Ziegler played college football with Josh McDaniels — not exactly a popular name in Denver — and Caserio at Ohio’s John Carroll University. Ziegler’s Denver stint began in 2010, McDaniels’ second and final year in Denver. He joined the Patriots in 2013. The Broncos are looking for a new personnel boss for the first time since McDaniels’ rough tenure, with John Elway moving out of the role he held for 10 years.

Paton is a veteran of the GM carousel. His most notable act on this circuit was pulling out of a Browns GM search he was on the verge of winning earlier this year, but the longtime Vikings exec has interviewed with other teams and been connected to several searches in recent years.

Unlike Ziegler and fellow rumored candidates Adam Peters (49ers) and Champ Kelly (Bears), Paton does not have a Broncos past. He spent time with the Bears and Dolphins, working with longtime Vikings GM Rick Spielman with those teams as well, and has been with the Vikings since 2007.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Interview Jeff Ireland, Joe Schoen, Monti Ossenfort

The Panthers have been busy with GM interviews Tuesday. Their meeting with Patriots player personnel director Nick Caserio occurred today, but the franchise also met with three other candidates.

Carolina interviewed Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland, Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen and Titans player personnel director Monti Ossenfort, the team announced. These meetings followed Monday interviews with ex-Giants GM Jerry Reese and Browns exec Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. The Panthers requested an interview with Colts exec Ed Dodds and are also interested in 49ers staffer Adam Peters.

While Ireland is best known for his GM run with the Dolphins (2008-13), he has been with the Saints since 2015. Also serving as New Orleans’ college scouting director, he has teamed with Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis to help restore the Saints to a perennial playoff entrant with successful drafts in the late 2010s. The Panthers are the only team to interview Ireland in this year’s extensive GM hiring period.

Ossenfort moved from New England to Nashville this year, leaving his longtime Patriots post for a central role with the Titans. He interviewed for the Browns GM opening earlier this year. Schoen has been a right-hand man for Brandon Beane and has played a key role in elevating the Bills from a team with a 17-year playoff drought to one that just secured the AFC’s No. 2 seed.

The Panthers are also interested in Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Chiefs director of player personnel Mike Borgonzi, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Paton has long been a target of GM-seeking teams. His most recent connection came when he backed out of the Browns’ 2020 GM search, one in which he was viewed as the favorite. The Chiefs have seen multiple Andy Reid-era staffers — Chris Ballard, Brett Veach — become GMs. Borgonzi predates Reid’s Kansas City arrival, having joined the Chiefs in 2009. He has risen from a scouting post to director of football operations over the past 10-plus years.

GM Interviews: Lions, Falcons, Panthers

It’s been a very busy Monday after Week 17 so far, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. There are a number of GM openings around the league, and interview requests for execs are flying in. Let’s get you caught up on all the latest:

  • Saints VP/assistant GM for pro personnel Terry Fontenot is scheduled to interview for the Lions GM job on Tuesday and the Falcons GM job on Wednesday, Albert Breer of The MMQB tweets. The Falcons have also requested a GM interview with Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). Along with Rick Smith, these were the top names expected to be in the mix in Atlanta. Fontenot isn’t the only Saints exec in the mix, as New Orleans assistant GM Jeff Ireland has been requested by the Panthers and Lions, Pelissero tweets.
  • Finally (for now), the Lions are also going to interview Vikings assistant GM George Paton, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Rapsheet says both Paton and Fontenot are “very strong candidates” for the Detroit job. Paton has drawn interest before, and has been in Minnesota’s front office since the 2007 season.
  • The Panthers are casting a wide net, and they’re also requesting to interview Chiefs assistant director of player personnel Ryan Poles for the vacancy created by Marty Hurney’s firing, Rapoport tweets. One more, as Carolina has officially requested to interview 49ers VP of Player Personnel Adam Peters, Rapoport tweets. We had heard they might have some interest in Peters, and Rapoport notes that he spent time with head coach Matt Rhule at UCLA and is “one to watch” here.
  • The Falcons have requested Colts college scouting director Morocco Brown, Pelissero tweets. Indy’s GM Chris Ballard is very highly regarded, so it’s not surprising that teams are digging into some of his deputies. Brown previously had personnel roles with Cleveland (2014-15) and Washington (2008-13).