Vikings assistant general manager George Paton has been a popular candidate in GM hiring circles around the NFL for years. Many of the teams still looking for new GMs after the 2020 season are interested in meeting with Paton again.
He will talk with the Lions on Wednesday, and the Broncos have submitted a request to meet with Paton about their GM job, according to a league source. It's also believed that two of the three remaining teams with openings — the Falcons and Panthers — have Paton on their list of candidates.
Paton has worked at Rick Spielman's side for 14 years in Minnesota, having been with him in Miami and Chicago before that. His scouting acumen — particularly as it relates to the team's ambitious draft strategies over the years — is widely-respected in the Vikings' front office, and has put him in the running for a series of jobs, though he's yet to leave Minnesota for a GM opening.
He was a finalist for the Rams' GM job in 2012, and turned down interview requests from the Jets in 2013 before declining requests from the Jets, Bears and Dolphins after the 2014 season. In 2017, he met with both the Colts and 49ers, and was believed to be the front-runner for the San Francisco job until the team hired John Lynch off of Fox's NFL broadcast lineup. Paton turned down an interview from the Chiefs later in 2017, rebuffed interest from the Jets in 2019, and last year, he met with the Browns — who'd just hired former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as head coach — before withdrawing from that race.
Paton has been selective with GM openings over the years, and interest from a new batch of teams this year doesn't necessarily mean he'll end up accepting one of the jobs. He has some connections with the Lions (where Spielman's brother Chris recently joined the front office after years of working at Fox following his career as a linebacker in Detroit) and Broncos (where his nephew Rob is a scout).