George Paton

La Canfora’s Latest: Paton, Coughlin, McCarthy

Vikings assistant GM George Paton has seen his name come up a great deal over the past couple of years as rival clubs sought new general managers, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Paton remains one of the top candidates for teams that will be looking for a GM in 2019. The fact that Paton has withdrawn his name from consideration for GM jobs in the past have suggested to some that he does not want to leave Minnesota, but La Canfora says Paton is indeed open to taking over a franchise next year. Although he declined to interview with the Dolphins in the past, Miami would be a potential landing spot if the team were to make front office changes this offseason.

Now for more from La Canfora’s typically abundant supply of Sunday reports:

  • There have been rumblings that Jaguars team president Tom Coughlin could return to the sidelines and become Jacksonville’s head coach (again) in 2019. La Canfora noted last week that Coughlin could take over as the Jags’ HC, and the fact that the team’s 2018 campaign has been tarnished by fights, suspensions, and lack of discipline could convince Coughlin, a noted disciplinarian, to take the reins. JLC says that there is a “growing perception” around the league that Coughlin will at least consider that move.
  • It has been obvious for some time that 2018 would be Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie‘s last year with the team, and La Canfora reaffirmed as much this morning. In addition to their GM, the Raiders will also be replacing several other members of their scouting and football operations staff, per La Canfora.
  • The Chiefs and Chargers will play each other in a pivotal Week 15 bout this Thursday. La Canfora tweets that Kansas City safety Eric Berry and Los Angeles running back Melvin Gordon will both be on the field for that game, although both are inactive today.
  • La Canfora confirms that former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy will be “very judicious” about his next opportunity and may not return to the sidelines in 2019 if the right opportunity does not present itself. We have already heard that the Jets‘ opening may not be especially appealing to McCarthy, and although his connection with Cleveland GM John Dorsey has led to plenty of speculation that McCarthy could take over as the Browns‘ HC, La Canfora says the Panthers and Ravens gigs — should they open up — are more intriguing to McCarthy. Sources close to McCarthy say they do not expect him to land in Cleveland.
  • Former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt is undergoing counseling for anger management and alcohol use, and he is also being mentored by a pastor and attending women’s group sessions as he attempts to prove to the league that he is ready for another opportunity. La Canfora says that no one is expected to sign Hunt until the league announces his suspension for three separate incidents, but that several teams have already reached out to him and will continue to monitor his progress and recovery. JLC’s sources say they expect Hunt to play in 2019, and Hunt himself is reportedly eager to assist the league in its investigations.

Vikings Deny Packers Permission To Interview George Paton For GM Job

We have some intra-divisional drama.The Packers requested permission to interview Vikings assistant GM George Paton for their GM job, but Minnesota declined the request, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). George Paton (vertical)

Typically, teams do not stand in the way of a coach or executive interviewing for a higher position elsewhere. However, teams can decline requests from other clubs while their season is in progress. The Vikings are exercising that right, presumably because they do not want to do any favors for the rival Packers.

Paton was a GM candidate for the Colts and 49ers openings last year before those jobs went to Chris Ballard and John Lynch, respectively. He was also asked to interview for the Chiefs when they surprised everyone by dumping John Dorsey in the summer, but he declined.

As shown in PFR’s GM Search Tracker, here’s where things stand in Green Bay:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Redskins, Jones

Now that the Giants front office and coaching staff is set to go through a number of changes after the firing of Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo, there’s a ton of speculation of who could be the person put in charge to bring the franchise back to perennial success.

While many people think the hire will come outside the organization, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network thinks interim GM Kevin Abrams should not be overlooked as the Giants begin their search.

Garafolo notes that Abrams is a “cap guy by trade”, but has worked on his scouting ability in recent years and has “attended multiple NFL seminars” to prepare to lead a football operations department. A number of names are likely to be floated for the job given that the team will likely have a high pick and has a track record of winning, but Abrams seems like he might get a realistic shot at turning his interim tag into a full-time position.

Here’s more from around the NFC East:

  • Apart from Abrams, Mike Sando of ESPN.com speculated a few candidates from outside the organization who could be contenders for the Giants general manager and head coaching gigs. Sando names front office guys like Nick Caserio from the Patriots, former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman and former Colts President Bill Polian. He also highlights many well known up-and-comers such as Eric DeCosta (Ravens), George Paton (Vikings), Eliot Wolf (Packers) and Terry McDonough (Cardinals) among many others. Sando added that former GM’s Scott Pioli (Falcons) and John Dorsey (free agent) could be intriguing hires as well. In terms of potential head coaching candidates, Sando names guys who were on the teams original list back before they hired McAdoo prior the 2016-17 season. This would include current coordinators like Teryl Austin (Lions) and Mike Smith (Buccaneers). An under-the-radar name to watch is Texans defensive coordinator, Mike Vrabel, who is best known for his time leading the Patriots defense to Super Bowl titles.
  • While the Redskins are out of the NFC playoff race after losing to the Cowboys last Thursday, that doesn’t mean that team will start resting their players, states John Keim of ESPN.com. He passes along that Head coach Jay Gruden said that he wouldn’t rest some of their injured starters just because the games don’t have postseason implications for the team. “They’re all trying to get back in the lineup,” Gruden said. “They’re going to play hard because they want to win and want to do well. That’s the reason they’re all here. We try to target guys that love football, are passionate about the game and are going to play hard no matter what. For the most part, we’ve got that here. So whether you are on one year left or five years left, doesn’t really matter.” Starters like left tackle Trent Williams, right tackle Morgan Moses and tight end Jordan Reed have all dealt with nagging injuries this season, but it appears that the Redskins won’t just solely be resting key players hoping that could lead to a better draft pick.
  • Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones has not played in a game this season as he’s continued to rehab the achilles that he had torn back in March. However, the rookie has yet to participate in practice, reports Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Jones has been eligible to start practicing since the beginning of Week 7, but has just a 21 day time period to be activated to the roster once he does begin to take part in practice. It’s important to note that Berman explains in a follow-up tweet, Jones could just use the last three weeks of the regular season to get extra reps and get a head start on his offseason training. The Eagles currently have corners Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Ronald Darby and Rasul Douglas patrolling the defensive backfield.

Vikings’ George Paton Turns Down Chiefs

The Chiefs’ GM search is underway and the team was hoping to pencil in Vikings assistant GM George Paton for an interview. However, “for a variety of reasons,” he has declined the opportunity, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Paton was a GM candidate for the Colts and 49ers openings before those jobs went to Chris Ballard and John Lynch, respectively. He has long been viewed as a rising front office name, so he likely feels that he can be selective about GM offers. One has to wonder if Paton has turned down the Chiefs because of the dysfunction going on in Kansas City. The Chiefs made the unusual decision of firing John Dorsey in June, long after the conclusion of the draft and the most important stages of free agency. Dorsey’s dismissal likely came after some in-fighting and poor communication and that’s not particularly appealing for a young front office man like Paton.

Paton completed his tenth season with the Vikings in 2016. Prior to that, he had experience elsewhere in the NFL including stops with the Bears and Dolphins.

49ers’ GM Search Includes Three Candidates?

The 49ers are expected to hire a new general manager early this week, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports. But there appears to be a third finalist who didn’t go through the formal interview process.

San Francisco is said to be deciding between finalists George Paton and Terry McDonough, who completed second interviews with the team on Saturday in Atlanta. Maiocco adds a third candidate with whom presumptive head coach Kyle Shanahan is comfortable is being considered. The 49ers have discussed ESPN analyst — and former Buccaneers GM — Mark Dominik, per Maiocco, but he didn’t interview with the team. It’s uncertain at this point whether Dominik is the third candidate.

Shanahan doesn’t have experience working with Paton or McDonough but does have a history with Dominik. During Shanahan’s days as Bucs offensive quality control coach in 2004-05, Dominik worked as the team’s director of pro scouting — a post he held for 12 years before ascending to Tampa Bay’s GM job.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn recommended Paton, with whom he worked in Miami, to the 49ers. And Maiocco notes the Vikings assistant GM may be the favorite based on the amount of time he spent with 49ers brass this weekend. Paton had dinner with Shanahan and Jed York on Friday before the Saturday interview. Shanahan also spoke directly with Paton and McDonough about how much control the GM position would have in terms of personnel, contractually and functionally, per Maiocco. Shanahan, however, continues to not insist on full roster control.

Mike Shanahan would certainly be a coach Kyle is familiar working with, but Maiocco does not include the former HC (and 49ers OC) as a candidate despite the elder Shanahan being mentioned as a possible front-office solution in San Francisco.

Today marks four weeks since the 49ers jettisoned Trent Baalke, and we heard this weekend the team wasn’t fully committed to hiring one of the two finalists. Additionally, Paton wasn’t considered a lock to take this job if offered. Paton remains in the hunt for the Colts’ GM job, but Chiefs player personnel director Chris Ballard has emerged as the favorite after securing a second interview.

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Latest On 49ers’ GM Finalist Stage

Today represents a pivotal spot on the calendar regarding the 49ers’ near-month-long search to replace Trent Baalke. Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough will conduct second interviews in Atlanta, but one of the candidates is not considered a lock to accept the job.

While news emerged Friday the 49ers may not be ready to commit to Paton or McDonough, and thus reopen their search, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports Paton is not a lock to accept the job if offered. Rick Spielman‘s second-in-command staffer remained an integral component of this process throughout, staying in the finalist picture even before Packers execs Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf withdrew. But Paton turned down opportunities in the past to interview with the Jets and Dolphins, and the longtime Vikings exec interviewed on Wednesday to become the Colts’ GM. Jed York met with Kyle Shanahan and Paton over dinner on Friday night before the expected meetings with both candidates today.

Maiocco confirms Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports’ report about the 49ers not being ready to commit even at this juncture and adds Shanahan wants to ensure during this search the team finds a GM with whom he can share responsibilities. Maiocco reiterates Shanahan will not demand complete roster control. Only a handful of coaches in the league have that responsibility, and the 37-year-old OC looks amenable to working alongside the 49ers’ GM hire.

Paton is believed to have more experience on the financial side of matters, whereas McDonough has dealt mostly with scouting, per Maiocco. The Cardinals high-ranking personnel man played a key role in Arizona landing David Johnson, John Brown and Rodney Gunter during a successful run for the Cardinals in the middle of recent drafts. One source told Maiocco McDonough’s draft acumen is “his No. 1 asset.” Paton isn’t a common fixture on the scouting circuit, working mostly out of the office on the pro personnel side of the spectrum, Maiocco notes.

Former execs Mark Domenik and Mike Shanahan have also been linked with potential front-office responsibilities with the 49ers, who will have gone without a GM for four weeks on Sunday if no one is hired today.

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Latest On 49ers’ GM Search

Led by CEO Jed York and executive vice president of football operations Paraag Marathe, the 49ers have reached out to 11 candidates this offseason in their quest to find a general manager. While the Niners are seemingly down to two finalists for the position – Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough and Vikings assistant GM George Paton – the saga isn’t necessarily nearing a conclusion. On the contrary, it’s “by no means” certain the 49ers will hire McDonough or Paton, and passing on each would cause them to reopen their search, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter).

Kyle Shanahan

La Canfora’s report jibes with what a source told Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com earlier this week – that “it’s not a lock” either McDonough or Paton will land the GM role in San Francisco. If the 49ers don’t tab one of those two, it’ll likely be the result of neither being able to sync with soon-to-be head coach Kyle Shanahan. The current Falcons offensive coordinator will take a break from Super Bowl LI preparation this weekend to meet with McDonough and Paton, who’s reportedly willing to take the Colts’ GM job.

Should one of McDonough or Paton hit it off with Shanahan in the coming days, the 49ers could have their next GM in place as early as Saturday, writes Cam Inman of the Mercury News. Otherwise, they’ll be back at square one and set to drag their GM search into a second month.

Both longtime head coach Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father, and ex-Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik have come up as possibilities to take front office jobs with the 49ers. They might be worth keeping an eye on, then, and the same goes for Falcons director of football operations Nick Polk, Jaguars director of player personnel Chris Polian, former Browns executive Morocco Brown and Redskins exec Alex Santos.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Colts, Jets, Browns

The NFL is continuing to investigate a June incident in which an intoxicated Aqib Talib accidentally shot himself in the leg, the league’s vice president of communications, Brian McCarthy, told Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. The Broncos cornerback isn’t facing any legal ramifications – the Dallas Police Department wrapped up its investigation in October – but the league could nonetheless hit the first-team All-Pro with some form of punishment. The soon-to-be 31-year-old has multiple run-ins with the law to his name, which could factor into the league’s decision, notes Jhabvala.

More from the AFC:

  • Vikings assistant general manager George Paton‘s interview with the GM-needy Colts went “extremely well,” sources told Chris Hagan of FOX 59 (Twitter links). Paton has turned down as many as 10 opportunities to leave Minnesota’s front office in recent years, but he’d finally be willing to depart if the Colts were to offer him their GM job, according to Hagan. Of course, Paton’s also in the running for the GM role in San Francisco, where he’s a finalist for the position.
  • Thanks to head coach Gary Kubiak‘s retirement, the Broncos’ offense will transition from a zone blocking scheme to a blend of zone and power under new coordinator Mike McCoy and line coach Jeff Davidson, writes Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post. That will, of course, play a role in how the Broncos repair a line that was a liability in 2016. The group is loaded with question marks, opines Wolfe, who contends that its only building block is center Matt Paradis.
  • In addition to the previously reported Aaron Murray, the Jets worked out free agent wide receivers Brian Tyms and Kyle Prater earlier this week, tweets Howard Balzer of BalzerFootball.com. Tyms, unlike Prater, has regular-season experience, having appeared in a combined 18 games with Miami, Cleveland and New England from 2012-14. The 27-year-old has amassed seven receptions and a touchdown in his career.
  • The Browns and senior player-personnel associate Ron Hill are mutually parting ways, per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (Twitter link). Hill, a longtime scout and executive with several teams, joined Cleveland in 2014 under then-GM Ray Farmer.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Eagles, Vikings

In their drawn-out quest to find a general manager, the 49ers are down to two finalists – Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Cardinals Terry McDonough – but “it’s not a lock” either will end up with the job, a source close to the team told Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. While there’s a “good chance” one of them will land the role, per the source, the previously reported Mark Dominik “could become involved” if the Niners go in another direction, writes Maiocco.

More from a couple other NFC cities:

  • The Eagles are poised to clear “significant” cap space, which could end center Jason Kelce‘s six-year tenure in Philadelphia. When asked about Kelce on Wednesday, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman didn’t shoot down any rumors regarding the 29-year-old. “We’re talking about a guy who just made the Pro Bowl. Those are good situations for the Philadelphia Eagles to have Pro Bowl players,” Roseman told Zach Berman of Philly.com. “But it’s hard to go into each player, and I’m not saying as it relates to Kelce, but if I start answering the question to Jason Kelce, that opens the door to five or six other guys.” By cutting Kelce, the Eagles would open up $3.8MM in cap space for 2017.
  • Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer missed the team’s Week 13 loss to the Cowboys after undergoing emergency surgery on his right eye. Over a month later, Zimmer still can’t see out of that eye and will undergo another procedure in April, tweets Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. “Hopefully that will fix it,” said Zimmer.
  • One of Zimmer’s players, wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson, is open to leaving the Vikings as a free agent if they don’t promise him an increased offensive role. “I need to know if I’m going to play or not. If not, I’ll take my talents elsewhere,” Patterson told Conor Orr of NFL.com. Patterson’s relevance in the Vikings’ offense increased significantly after coordinator Pat Shurmur took over for Norv Turner at the outset of November. Shurmur guaranteed Patterson more targets after grabbing the reins, and the 25-year-old then racked up 46 in the final nine games of the season. He had only 24 in Turner’s seven games atop the offense. All told, the first-team All-Pro return man amassed a career-high 52 catches, though he only averaged 8.7 yards per reception. On whether he’d return to Minnesota for a fifth season in 2017, Patterson said, “If they want me back, they’ll (make a deal) and get me back.”
  • The Eagles and player personnel executive Rick Mueller are parting ways, sources told Jeff McLane of Philly.com. Mueller was in his second stint with the Eagles, who fired him during the Chip Kelly era and brought him back when it ended.

Cardinals’ Terry McDonough Set For Second 49ers Meeting

Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough will meet with the 49ers about their GM vacancy for a second time, doing so this weekend, Kent Somers of AZCentral.com tweets. The interview will occur on Saturday, likely in Atlanta, per Somers.

Vikings assistant GM George Paton, the only other known finalist, will also conduct his interview for the 49ers’ job on Saturday, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). While McDonough previously resided as a finalist along with Paton, this confirms the two-man race. The team has not set up any additional follow-up meetings.

McDonough has not been connected with the Colts’ GM opening, while Paton is now in the running for both jobs. Paton is expected to meet with the Colts on Wednesday or Thursday, Alex Marvez of the Sporting News tweets. Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan, the runaway leader in the race to become the 49ers’ next HC, is scheduled to be at Paton’s meeting. Presumably, the Super Bowl-bound play-caller will be at McDonough’s as well.

McDonough’s official summons for a second sitdown with the 49ers comes after previous confirmed finalists Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst chose to sign extensions to stay with the Packers.

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