The Cleveland Browns search for their next general manager will continue after the news broke on Friday that George Paton has withdrawn his name from consideration for the job.
The news was first reported by NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, citing a “source informed of the decision.”
Paton was in contention for the job because he was interested in working with head coach Kevin Stefanski after the two spent the past 13 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. The Browns had Paton in for a pair of interviews, most recently on Wednesday, but ultimately could not come to an agreement.
Depending on how you feel about the current state of the Browns, that could mean one of two things.
Source said Browns GM job was ‘very tempting’ to George Paton, who was not at all scared off by Browns’ structure, was impressed with people in the building and thinks highly of Kevin Stefanski. But he felt he had a good thing still going in Minnesota. Came down to that.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 24, 2020
On one hand, Paton’s decision could simply be one of those things that happens every day in every business, where a prospective employee interviews for a job and, for one reason or another, the two sides are just not a fit.
The fact that the Browns were able to get Paton to agree to an interview, let alone two, was seen in some circles as an impressive feat. While he has never been a general manager, it is not from lack of interest around the NFL. Paton has turned down the New York Jets on more than one occasion, and was a finalist for the general manager’s job in 2017 with the San Francisco 49ers. He also interviewed with the Indianapolis Colts in 2017.
On the other hand, for those of a more pessimistic nature, Paton’s decision is a reflection of the continued dysfunction surrounding the Browns and a sign of an imminent power struggle between Stefanski, who did not get “his guy” as the general manager, and chief strategy office Paul DePodesta, who is rumored to favor Andrew Berry, currently the vice president of football operations for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Berry and DePodesta have a history together as Berry worked for the Browns as vice president of player personnel from 2016-2018, so that would held give the team the alignment that co-owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam claim to covet.
Even though it has been assumed that Stefanski wanted Paton, when asked about the general manager search on Wednesday at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards, Stefanski would not play any favorites, according to ohio.com:
“I think we’ve brought in some really good candidates. I don’t want to single anybody out. I just know that Dee and Jimmy have done their due diligence to make sure that we bring in some really qualified people and again getting to get them in our building and talk to them and understand that shared vision that we all have, I think it’s been a good process.”
In addition to Paton and Berry, the Browns have also interviewed New England Patriots director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort.