George Paton is not a World War II general; he is a rising star in the NFL personnel evaluation world and is the right-hand man for Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman. On Friday, news broke about the Packers barking up the Vikings’ proverbial executive tree.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Packers requested to interview Paton for the team’s open general manager job, but that the Vikings denied the request. Paton, an eleven-year veteran of the Vikings’ organization, had multiple interviews for GM positions in 2017 but did not end up getting a job. In fact, he was viewed as one of the favorites for the San Francisco 49ers’ job following Brian Gutekunst’s withdrawal from consideration. Gutekunst elected to remain with the Packers, while the job eventually went to former NFL safety John Lynch.
Paton is seen as one of the reasons for the Vikings’ success in building up their current roster, which earned the second seed in the NFC despite starting backup quarterback Case Keenum for most of the season.
Although this interview will not take place, it does illustrate that Mark Murphy is at least serious about talking to candidates from outside the organization. Internal candidates — Gutekunst, Russ Ball, and Eliot Wolf — remain the safest bet to take over for Ted Thompson, but this suggests that there is at least a legitimate effort to talk to individuals outside the building about the vacancy.
Although NFL teams cannot bar members of their front offices from interview for GM positions during the offseason, ESPN’s Jason Wilde clarified that the Vikings can do so for the time being because their season remains in progress. If the Packers’ position remains open once the Vikings’ season is over, it would be possible for the team to do so without the permission of their rival.
Stay tuned for more updates about the GM search.