George Paton

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). 

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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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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). 

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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.

AFC East Notes: Pats, Grier, Gore, Jets

The rumors of the Patriots‘ demise in recent years have been greatly exaggerated, but even though the club is still heading to the playoffs and remains in the hunt for a first-round bye, it doesn’t appear that this is the same New England team that we have become accustomed to. The Pats’ aging stars are beginning to play like aging stars, head coach Bill Belichick‘s future is uncertain, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says there is some concern about how the team will function when owner Robert Kraft fully transfers control of day-to-day operations to his son.

As such, La Canfora believes the club could see a mass exodus of coaching and front-office talent this offseason, with OC Josh McDaniels, DC Brian Flores, and director of player personnel Nick Caserio all potentially on the move. Of course, New England could turn it on and roll to another Super Bowl title, but even if that does happen, this could be a very tumultuous winter in Foxborough.

Now for more from the AFC East:

  • Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes that Josh Gordon‘s indefinite suspension marked the Patriots‘ 26th transaction involving a wide receiver this year, which is unusually high. It reinforces how difficult it has been for New England to decisively address its WR needs — and it also calls into question the team’s decision to part with Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola — and Reiss believes the Pats will make receiving talent a top priority this offseason. We learned more troubling details about Gordon’s suspension this morning.
  • We have heard that the Dolphins could be in for a major overhaul this offseason, and like his colleagues, La Canfora believes that owner Stephen Ross could part ways with vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Adam Gase. However, La Canfora reports that Ross thinks highly of general manager Chris Grier — who holds the GM title but who does not have final authority over football decisions — and that Grier is likely to remain with Miami. If the Dolphins do go searching for a new executive this offseason to replace Tannenbaum, Vikings assistant GM George Paton would be near the top of the list, as we heard earlier this month.
  • Dolphins running back Frank Gore, whose season came to a premature end due to a mid-foot sprain, has already indicated he wants to play in 2019. And, as Safid Deen of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes, Gore wants to return to Miami. Given the surprising success that he had with his hometown Dolphins this year, Gore may get his wish.
  • Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv lays out the Jets‘ biggest offseason needs — pass rusher, wide receiver, running back, and offensive line — and offers his take as to how to best address those needs.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com looks at how head coaching candidates might view the Jets‘ soon-to-be vacant HC position, and he concludes that, although it has some drawbacks, it is still an attractive opening that will tempt some of the team’s top targets.

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.