Vikings Rumors

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 1-15-21 (4:59pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers 

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Washington Football Team

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.

2021 NFL Draft Order

Wild Card weekend is in the books and 75% of the NFL’s 2021 Draft order has been set. Here’s the rundown, thus far:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets (via Seahawks)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Vikings, Dom Capers To Part Ways

The Vikings and Dom Capers will part ways after a one-season partnership. Capers’ contract will be allowed to expire, with the Vikings announcing he will not be back in 2021.

Minnesota brought the former head coach and longtime Green Bay defensive coordinator in as a senior defensive assistant last year. While roster turnover and injuries gutted Minnesota’s defense, the unit ranked as by far the worst in Mike Zimmer‘s seven-year tenure.

Cuts of Xavier Rhodes and Linval Joseph preceded free agency defections of Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander and Everson Griffen. An injury sidelined Danielle Hunter for the entire 2020 season, and Anthony Barr was lost for most of it. The Vikings traded Yannick Ngakoue soon after as well. The new-look defense ended the year 29th in points allowed and 27th in total defense, though DVOA respected the undermanned unit’s work a bit more (18th).

Capers, 70, spent the 2019 season as a senior defensive assistant in Jacksonville. He came to a Vikings team that had parted ways with defensive coordinator George Edwards and installed Andre Patterson and Adam Zimmer — Mike’s son — as co-DCs. The former head coach for multiple expansion teams — the Panthers and Texans — Capers has been an NFL coach since 1986. His most recent role of note was as Packers DC from 2009-17.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/5/21

We’ll keep track of the latest reserve/futures deals here:

Carolina Panthers 

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Vikings OC Gary Kubiak To Retire

We just got word of one offensive coordinator vacancy as the Dolphins fired Chan Gailey, and now it looks like we’ve got another. Vikings offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak plans to retire, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.

Kubiak joined Minnesota in an advisory role in 2019, then took over as offensive coordinator this season after Kevin Stefanski left to take the Browns’ head coaching job. Kubiak is an incredibly accomplished coach, winning three Super Bowls as an assistant with the Broncos and 49ers before winning another won as head coach of Denver in Super Bowl 50. He also was the Texans’ head coach from 2006-13, and the Ravens’ offensive coordinator in 2014 before getting hired by the Broncos.

The Vikings were a disappointment this season, but that was mostly because of their defense, so it’s unlikely that he’s being squeezed out and this is probably entirely his call.There were a lot of positives to take away from this Minnesota offense, like Dalvin Cook rushing for 1,557 yards and 16 touchdowns in 14 games or rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson emerging to look like a star in the making.

Now at the age of 59, Kubiak has dealt with a couple of health scares in recent years, which was what caused him to step down as coach of the Broncos after a 9-7 2016 season. That initial retirement lasted only a couple of seasons though, so it’s entirely possible we haven’t seen the last of him on an NFL sideline even with this second retirement.

It’s unclear what the Vikings will do to replace him, but if they choose to promote from within like Mike Zimmer often likes to do, one logical candidate is Kubiak’s own son Klint Kubiak, who was the quarterbacks coach this past season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2021 NFL Draft Order

The 2020 regular season is in the books. For more than half of the NFL, that means the offseason is officially underway.

The league’s 18 non-playoff teams now know where they stand in the 2021 NFL Draft order. For the remaining clubs, the playoffs will help determine their position. Here’s the rundown of the 2021 NFL Draft order, thus far:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinatti Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins

Lions To Pursue Seahawks GM John Schneider

The Lions are leaving no stone unturned in their search for a new GM. In addition to three in-house candidates and myriad external options, including a few high-profile targets, the club is expected to make a run at Seahawks GM John Schneider, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports.

Schneider has long been considered one of the best executives in the game, and he and Pete Carroll have forged a remarkably productive GM-HC tandem since they came to Seattle in 2010. Under their leadership, the ‘Hawks have compiled a 111-63-1 record, five division titles, two NFC championships, and a Super Bowl.

But Carroll, not Schneider, has final authority over all personnel decisions. That means that a club like the Lions could interview Schneider if it offers him full control (though as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes, it may not be quite that simple, and Detroit may need to send compensation to Seattle if it wants to hire Schneider away). Plus, while Carroll signed a long-term extension several months ago that will run through the 2025 campaign, Schneider is only under contract through the 2022 draft, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets. Rapoport says that, in addition to Detroit, Schneider is expected to get a call from at least one other team,

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the Lions would also be interested in Steelers GM Kevin Colbert. Colbert has gone year-to-year with Pittsburgh for awhile, but that’s because he wants to leave open the possibility of retirement. He plans to be back with Pittsburgh in 2021, so it looks like another one-year pact is on the horizon.

Vikings assistant GM George Paton, who has been a fixture on the GM rumor mill in recent years, is also on the Lions’ radar, per Rapoport, and there is a new and interesting connection between Minnesota and Detroit. Paton’s boss, Rick Spielman, is the brother of new Detroit exec Chris Spielman, who is expected to have an integral role in the Lions’ search process.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/2/21

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

  • Signed off Jets’ practice squad: G Blake Hance
  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: S Karl Joseph
  • Promoted: G Cordell Iwuagwu, LB Montrel Meander, T Alex Taylor

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Promoted: DB John Brannon

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team