George Paton removing name from Cleveland Browns GM search is concerning

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 14: Team owner Jimmy Haslam introduces Kevin Stefanski as the Cleveland Browns new head coach on January 14, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 14: Team owner Jimmy Haslam introduces Kevin Stefanski as the Cleveland Browns new head coach on January 14, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

George Paton removed his name from consideration for the Cleveland Browns general manager vacancy, creating plenty of concern about the search process.

Minnesota Vikings assistant general manager George Paton and the Cleveland Browns seemed like they were heading down a path that would make Paton the Browns general manager. However, Paton was thinking differently and is reportedly no longer a candidate for Cleveland’s general manager vacancy.

According to’s Mary Kay Cabot, Paton took his name out of the running to be the Browns general manager. After taking a second visit with the Browns on Wednesday, Paton returned to Minnesota without a deal in place, potentially foreshadowing Friday’s report.

Paton has been a candidate for several general manager vacancies in the past, but has withdrawn his name from consideration multiple times. Despite being one of the top general manager candidates in the NFL, Paton is waiting for the perfect opportunity before taking a job.

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Cleveland appeared to be a good fit for Paton considering he would be working directly with Kevin Stefanski, who spent 13 seasons in Minnesota with Paton. Paton and Stefanski’s relationship would have made it easier for the two to work together and have a clear vision about what to do with the roster.

Cabot reported on Wednesday that Stefanski wanted Paton as the Browns general manager “in the worst way.” However, despite Stefanski’s urging, either the Browns were planning on going in a different direction or Paton did not like the setup of Cleveland’s front office.

Paton withdrawing his name from consideration for the Browns general manager vacancy creates a lot of concern about Cleveland’s search process. Cleveland is 22 days removed from parting ways with John Dorsey as general manager and there remains plenty of questions about who is filling the job. The Browns are also at a critical point of the offseason with the NFL deep into draft season.

Cleveland is still searching for their general manager as the Senior Bowl is well underway in Mobile, Alabama. Instead of having a general manager leading the scouting in Mobile, the Browns have holdovers from Dorsey’s regime, Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith, at the Senior Bowl leading the Browns scouting department.

It was expected the Browns were going to undergo a patient approach to hiring the general manager while also receiving input from the head coach. However, it has been two weeks since Stefanski has been named head coach and there still has been no resolution for who will be the general manager. And if Stefanski was keen on the Browns hiring Paton as general manager and the organization decided against his pleas, it makes it hard to believe the Haslam’s and Paul DePodesta took the head coach’s suggestion seriously.

Even before Dorsey was let go, former Browns executive and current Eagles Vice President of Football Operations Andrew Berry was viewed as the leading candidate to be the general manager. Paton potentially knowing Berry was the favorite could have caused him to withdraw his name from consideration.

If that is the case and Berry has been the front-runner since the beginning, it would be fair to question Cleveland’s search process. Even if Stefanski aligned better with Paton, the Browns appeared to have their eyes set on Berry, no matter how the interviews went. And if Berry has been the front-runner the entire time, why has the organization taken so long to hire the general manager?

The longer Cleveland’s search for a general manager has gone, the more concerning it has become. Paton withdrawing his name after visiting with the organization twice is going to raise even more red flags about the search process.

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Berry could prove to be a great hire if he decides to become the Browns general manager. However, if he was the favorite from the start, the Browns should have made the hire sooner rather than later. And if the Browns were truly striving for alignment this offseason, Stefanski’s top choice to be the general manager withdrawing his name will put that strategy into question.