Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman sounded hopeful that he won't be losing any more front office personnel to the Broncos after Denver hired his trusted longtime top assistant George Paton as general manager on Wednesday.
"There are rules in place, who you can and can't take," Spielman said Thursday. "So I know, as I've said, George is a man of integrity. I think he wants to get his opportunity and is going to get his opportunity to build the culture that he wants out there. But there are a lot of rules in place that I hopefully won't lose anyone."
Jamaal Stephenson, who has led the Vikings' college scouting department since Scott Studwell stepped aside in 2014, has been considered a possible hire for Paton. But Stephenson was among the first names Spielman mentioned as key figures he has "the utmost trust in" to help him fill this big void with the "status quo" for now.
"Jamaal Stephenson is excellent in leading our colleges," Spielman said. "I think Ryan Monnens has done an incredible job being our pro director along with Reed Burckhardt.
"I think we have a very unique staff. There's not been a lot of turnover on the staff since I've been here. … I've been very fortunate to keep the people here that do have a major influence on all the decisions we do make. I don't see that changing."
Spielman also said Rob Brzezinski — executive vice president of football operations and trusted handler of the salary cap – "is going to be a critical part of this going forward as well."
Brzezinski and Paton have been integral parts of the team's draft day wheelings and dealings.
Spielman said he hasn't decided what to do with Paton's position long term.
"We will stay status quo [for now]," he said. "We have a lot of great people in this building who will do a great job. And I think I will just reassess where we're at after the draft and try to make some decisions and determinations after that."
Paton's departure Wednesday was a bittersweet moment Spielman and the rest of the football world have seen coming for some time. Coveted by numerous teams, Paton has been interviewing and declining job offers for years before finally agreeing to a six-year deal with the Broncos.
Spielman said he was excited for Paton and sad for himself. They've worked together for decades in Chicago, Miami and Minnesota after meeting in the late 1990s when the Bears hired Paton as an intern and put him with Spielman, their pro personnel director.
"He's been my sounding board, my closest friend and truly like a brother to me," Spielman said. "Probably the biggest honor I've had was when George and Barb, his wife, asked me to be the godfather of their son, Beau."
Spielman said he'll miss Paton's friendship most of all. A bond that allowed Paton to sometimes pull the boss aside and, according to Spielman, say, "Hey, Rick, you're screwing this up, let's get it fixed."
Draft days will be interesting to watch without Paton working the phones for Spielman.
"We're very active in trades," Spielman said. "George and Rob are my two trade guys. When you know each other so well, you don't even have to say anything. If you just look, he knows what I'm thinking and I already know what they're thinking.
"It's that unique synergy that you have with people that you don't even have to say anything. You just know. I think that's what's made it so smooth over the years that we've worked together."