George Paton

Latest On Browns, George Paton

Jan. 22: Paton’s second interview with the Browns will take place today, per Nate Ulirch of the Akron Beacon Journal (via Twitter). Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com, who first reported that Paton was flying to Cleveland today, said we could have a resolution in the next couple of days (Twitter link).

Jan. 20: George Paton has moved to the front of the Browns’ GM search, with the Minnesota-to-Cleveland pairing of Paton-Kevin Stefanski looking like the next Browns power structure.

But the longtime Vikings executive will meet with Browns brass one more time, doing so later this week, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. With the Vikings since 2007, Paton has been selective about his GM future over the past several years. He’s turned down multiple teams’ offers since 2017, so it would certainly be interesting to see Rick Spielman‘s top lieutenant jump ship to one of the NFL’s least stable franchises.

Initially, Paton paused on taking a Browns interview because of the prospect of an Andrew Berry reunion, Cabot adds. But the prospect of working with Stefanski enticed him to take the meeting.

Berry was a Browns exec from 2016-18, coming aboard when Jimmy Haslam brought in Sashi Brown and current chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta to run a new-age front office. But Paton’s first Browns meeting obviously went quite well, and he appears to be leading a field that includes Berry and Patriots exec Monti Ossenfort.

Paton’s Vikings tenure overlapped with Stefanski’s. The new Browns HC also became acquainted with Berry during the John Dorsey-led coaching search that led to Freddie Kitchens taking over. Berry then joined the Eagles’ front office. But a Minneapolis East setup may be the latest in a long line of power structures under Haslam.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Hire George Paton?

The Browns could hire George Paton to be their new GM early this week, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com hears. Though nothing has been finalized, it sounds like the Vikings assistant general manager will be the club’s hire and make his long-awaited move up the ladder. 

Paton has been very picky with interviews in recent years and he was reportedly waffling on whether to even interview for the Browns’ vacancy. On Saturday, he met with team brass and things are apparently moving in a positive direction.

The Browns also interviewed Eagles VP of football operations Andrew Berry and Patriots director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort on Friday. Berry was thought to be the favorite for weeks, due to his familiarity with the organization. Instead, Paton is now expected to take over for John Dorsey and guide the Browns through a critical offseason.

Paton may be a natural fit for a team that just hired longtime Vikings assistant Kevin Stefanski as its head coach. The two men overlapped in Minnesota for 13 years, so they should be well-aligned.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Johnson, Stefanski, Browns

Chad Johnson’s time as a pro football player might not be finished after all. The legendary former NFL receiver will tryout as a kicker with the XFL on Monday, he announced on Twitter. The tryout in Houston is indeed legit, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com confirmed with a source. Johnson is 42 now, and hasn’t appeared in a game since the 2011 season. He’s a huge soccer fan, and has often expressed an interest in kicking. Back during the 2009 preseason when he was still with the Bengals, he converted an extra point and handled a kickoff. Johnson became a six-time Pro Bowler with Cincinnati and was a first-team All-Pro selection three times. One of the best receivers in the league for a long stretch, he finished with 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns. He also briefly played in the CFL a handful of years ago. It still seems like more of a publicity stunt than anything else, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Here’s more from around the football world:

  • The Browns settled on a new head coach in Kevin Stefanski, but they’re still searching for a new general manager. One potential candidate is Vikings assistant GM George Paton, but he’s apparently hard to pin down. Paton has been very picky with interviews in recent years, and the Browns still haven’t gotten a firm commitment from him on whether or not he’ll interview, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). It was initially reported that Paton had agreed to interview, but that turned out not to be true. Eagles executive Andrew Berry and Patriots exec Monti Ossenfort are also candidates.
  • Whoever Cleveland selects to be their next GM, Stefanski will have a lot of input in the front office. The rookie head coach “will have a large say in roster decisions,” writes Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Kay Cabot thinks they wouldn’t want his help hiring the new general manager if he wasn’t going to have a lot of power once they’re hired. Stefanski is still only 37 and last season was his first full one as a coordinator, but the Haslam family clearly has a lot of trust in him.
  • Stefanski still has some staffing decisions to make, even after it appears he settled on Joe Woods to be his new defensive coordinator. He won’t be hiring a new special teams coordinator, as sources told Kay Cabot that he’s going to keep Mike Priefer as a rare holdover from Freddie Kitchens’ staff. Priefer was Minnesota’s special teams coordinator for eight seasons while Stefanski was with the Vikings, so they have a lot of familiarity with one another. Priefer had previously been STC for the Chiefs and Broncos.

Latest On Browns, George Paton

4:20pm: Paton may not be as interested in the position as Berry or Ossenfort. The experienced exec does not, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling, have an interview scheduled with the Browns (Twitter link). Paton has been especially selective over the years, so further deliberation would not exactly be a surprise.

2:26pm: The Browns’ GM search will include an interview will include a meeting with George Paton. The Vikings’ assistant GM will meet with the Browns this weekend, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Paton joins Eagles executive Andrew Berry and Patriots front office staffer Monti Ossenfort as candidates. A few more names have been mentioned in this search, but the Browns’ interview itinerary has formed.

In the GM mix for years, Paton would seemingly be a natural fit for a team that just hired longtime Vikings assistant Kevin Stefanski. A career-long Vikings coach, Stefanski has worked with Paton for 13 years. Paton has been with the Vikings since 2007 and previously worked with current boss Rick Spielman in Miami and Chicago.

Paton was in the mix for the 49ers job that went to John Lynch three years ago but turned down an opportunity to interview with the Jets last year. He did the same when John Dorsey‘s ouster created a Chiefs GM vacancy in 2017. The Browns prioritized hiring their head coach first this time around, with chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta overseeing the coaching search that produced Stefanski after Dorsey ran last year’s process.

Browns Request Interview With Vikings’ George Paton

The Browns requested permission to interview Vikings assistant GM George Paton for their GM vacancy, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Paton worked in Minnesota with new Vikings head coach Kevin Stefanski, so he’d be a logical fit for the job.

Paton has been a prominent GM candidate in the last few offseason cycles, though he has also pulled his name from consideration on multiple occasions, including the Jets’ search that resulted in Mike Maccagnan‘s hire in 2015. Late last offseason, after the Jets canned Maccagnan, he rejected their offer to interview for the third time in his career.

When Paton said no to Gang Green, it was speculated that he was wary of the team’s internal discord and complicated power structure. The same could be said of the Browns, though his relationship with Stefanski could sway him. Indeed, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Paton will interview for the Browns’ gig.

On Monday morning, Colts executive Ed Dodds turned down the Browns’ invitation to interview. Meanwhile, former Browns exec and current Eagles vice president of football operations Andrew Berry figures to be a top candidate.

Vikings’ George Paton Turns Down Jets

George Paton has completed the hat trick. On Thursday, the Vikings assistant general manager declined to interview with the Jets for the third time in his career, according to Chad Graff, Jon Krawczynski, and Connor J. Hughes of The Athletic (on Twitter). 

[RELATED: Jets GM Search Tracker]

Paton turned down the Jets’ invitation to interview for the GM job in 2013 and again in 2015. The well-respected executive will instead remain with the Vikings, leaving Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas, Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer, Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly, and Saints director of pro scouting Terry Fontenot as the club’s only known candidates.

There’s no word on why Paton has rejected the Jets (for a third time), but many have speculated that the club’s internal discord and Adam Gase‘s control of the 53-man roster could be sticking points for top candidates.

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Latest On Jets’ GM Search

We have another update on the Jets’ search for a general manager as you’re hopefully enjoying Memorial Day, this time courtesy of Albert Breer of SI.com. So far, the Jets have requested interviews with four candidates. While the request part is often a formality, it sounds like the Jets might not actually get everybody on their list.

Breer was told that “it remains unclear if Minnesota exec George Paton will accept” his interview request. Paton has been a hot GM candidate in the past, though he has pulled his name from consideration multiple times, so it’s not too surprising he’s being selective here. Paton is clearly comfortably with the Vikings, and will only leave for the perfect opportunity.

While they might not end up interviewing Paton, Chicago’s Champ Kelly and Seattle’s Scott Fitterer are both going to meet with Jets brass. Breer reports that Fitterer’s interview is scheduled for Thursday and Friday. Breer reiterates that Eagles exec Joe Douglas “remains the favorite,” and he writes that he’s “the one hire the Jets can make that could mitigate the public relations mess of the last few weeks,” citing his “sterling reputation as an evaluator” and “ability to assemble a loaded scouting staff.”

If the Jets do end up hiring Douglas, who has a longstanding relationship with Jets coach and interim GM Adam Gase, that doesn’t mean none of the other candidates will be joining the new front office. Breer notes that “there’s a belief in scouting circles that if Kelly doesn’t get the GM job, he could still land in Jersey working under Douglas.”

As of now, Douglas seems like a strong favorite. Gase has insisted that Jets owner/CEO Christopher Johnson will have final say, but everybody seems to believe Gase is calling the shots. Douglas was the Bears’ director of college scouting when Gase was the offensive coordinator in Chicago in 2015.

Jets To Interview Paton, Fitterer

The Jets have added two more names to their GM request list. The club has requested interviews with Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Seahawks co-Director of Player Personnel Scott Fitterer, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

[Poll: Who Should Jets Hire?]

Paton has been a prominent GM candidate in the last few offseason cycles, though he has also pulled his name from consideration on multiple occasions, including the Jets’ search that resulted in Mike Maccagnan‘s hire in 2015. In December, it was rumored that Paton was open to finally making a move, so he could be open to running the Jets’ front office.

Fitterer has been in the mix for GM jobs as well, including vacancies with the Chiefs, 49ers, and Colts a couple of years ago. Fitterer’s strength lies in talent evaluation, whereas Paton is viewed as more of a cap guru.

Fitterer and Paton join Eagles exec Joe Douglas and Bears exec Champ Kelly on the Jets’ interview docket.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jets’ GM Search Process

The Jets’ search for a new general manager will likely ramp up after the upcoming holiday weekend, as Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports indicates in a series of tweets. As the process unfolds, key questions could involve the potential return of Jets owner Woody Johnson (currently serving as a U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom) and the willingness of head coach Adam Gase to surrender control of the 53-man roster, per Robinson.

Johnson’s brother Christopher is currently running the Jets and made the decision to fire ex-GM Mike Maccagnan and install Gase in an acting personnel capacity. But prospective GM candidates are, perhaps rightly, concerned at the prospect of Woody Johnson returning to helm the franchise in the near future.

Eagles executive Joe Douglas is still Gase’s top choice for general manager, according to Robinson, but he’d probably be the No. 1 option for any number of GM openings. Douglas is expected to be choosy when it comes to his next opportunity, and Robinson invokes Colts GM Chris Ballard — who was picky before ending up in Indianapolis — as a comparison.

There are reportedly a number of candidates whom Gase would accept as GM, per Robinson, including the 49ers’ Adam Peters, the Bears’ Champ Kelly, and the Lions’ Lance Newmark. Additionally, Jets ownership is believed to “think highly” of Vikings exec George Paton. None of those names have been officially linked to the New York job as of yet.

Latest On Dolphins, Adam Gase

This time of year in the NFL season is when the coaching carousel really starts to heat up, and this cycle seems set to be especially busy. There will be a ton of head coaching jobs open, with two coaches already fired and a slew of others set to be canned once Week 17 is over. While people like Todd Bowles, Vance Joseph, Dirk Koetter, and Steve Wilks have been written off as goners, one name that hasn’t been talked about too much is Dolphins coach Adam Gase.

While he’s flown more under the radar, that doesn’t mean his job is safe. We’ve already heard that John Harbaugh isn’t a lock to be in Baltimore long term, and there’s a “lingering belief that owner Stephen Ross would be interested in hiring Ravens coach John Harbaugh”, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.While that still seems like a long shot, Florio also points out how Gase’s future is tied to what the Dolphins do with their front office.

Front office head Mike Tannenbaum is reportedly set to be let go at the end of the year, but it’s Gase who has contractual control and final say over the 53-man roster. A source told Florio that the Dolphins are interested in speaking to Vikings assistant G.M. George Paton and Bills assistant G.M. Joe Schoen, but Florio notes that “if Miami isn’t able to offer a new employee control over the football operation, the Vikings and Bills (and any other team with a current front-office employee under contract) would be able to block the process.”

As such, Florio writes that “the Dolphins need to wrest power from Gase, either voluntarily or involuntarily, if the goal is to hire a high-level executive from another NFL franchise.” It’s unclear if Gase would agree to such a reduction of his authority, or if he would then seek to leave the team.

Gase is a very highly regarded offensive mind, and would be in immediate demand as an offensive coordinator and possibly head coach if he’s available after this year. This is Gase’s third year coaching the Dolphins, and he’s dealt with major injuries in each of his three seasons as coach. His first year in Miami he made the playoffs with journeyman Matt Moore as his quarterback down the stretch, and was stuck with Jay Cutler as a last minute pickup last year after Ryan Tannehill tore his ACL. The Dolphins also appear set to move on from Tannehill, so no matter what happens with Gase it should be an offseason of major change in Miami.