George Paton is in Denver today, conducting an in-person interview with the Broncos for the team’s open general manager job. It’s the second time he’s talked with the team about the position, days after his virtual interview.
Paton has spent the past 14 seasons in Minnesota, currently serving as the Vikings vice president of player personnel and assistant general manager. During that time, a lot of players have come and gone, at least somewhat on Paton’s watch.
For the most part, the Vikings have been good during his tenure. Paton and general manager Rick Spielman have built a team that is consistently in the mix.
That said, it hasn’t been perfect. Most specifically, Minnesota has failed to crack the code at quarterback.
When it was announced that Paton was coming to town for a follow-up interview, Mike Klis put forth the argument that the assistant GM’s experience with searching for a signal caller worked in his favor, given that the Broncos are still searching for the heir apparent to Peyton Manning. The case fell flat, however.
Spielman-Paton era also included a last hurrah for Brett Favre, who did have one last great year in him in 2009, Matt Cassel and Gus Frerotte. #9sports
— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) January 12, 2021
Not that Drew Lock should pack his bags. Vikings did go with young, top-round draft picks in Tarvaris Jackson (2007), Christian Ponder (2011-12) and Teddy Bridgewater (2014-15). So like the Broncos, Spielman-Paton Vikings have tried different ways to chase a QB. #9sports
— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) January 12, 2021
Paton certainly has been active in the quarterback market. There’s no arguing that fact. But his results have been mixed, at best.
Cousins was an expensive gamble, originally signing a three-year, $84 million deal and then inking a revised two-year, $66 million deal. All told, he’s earned $94 million in Minnesota. The Vikings are 25-21-1 with him at quarterback, earning just one playoff trip and one postseason victory. That’s not exactly a great return on investment.
Bradford was 9-8 across parts of two seasons with the Vikings, failing to reach the playoffs in the season he played 15 games. Minnesota paid him $35 million. Ouch.
Favre was a little bit better investment. The Hall of Fame quarterback earned $28 million in Minnesota, playing his final two seasons. In year one, he led the Vikings to a 12-4 record; that season ended in heartbreak, with a 31-28 overtime loss to the Saints in the NFC Championship Game. In 2010, Favre went 5-8 during an injury-riddled campaign.
That’s three veteran quarterbacks, earning $157 million. Combined, they posted a 51-41-1 record and won two playoff games.
The other two veteran QBs mentioned had short stings in Minnesota. Matt Cassel 4-5 across two seasons, while Gus Frerotte was 10-3 across two different stints.
Compared to the quarterbacks the Vikings have drafted, however, that’s an incredible run of success. That’s an even more underwhelming group.
Tarvaris Jackson was a second round pick in 2006. He was 10-10 as a starter in Minnesota, playing sparingly across five seasons.
Christian Ponder was the 12th-overall pick in 2011. He was 14-21-1 during his four seasons as a Viking.
Teddy Bridgewater was picked with the 32nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was 17-11 during three years in Minnesota. If not for a catastrophic knee injury suffered during training camp in 2016, he might have panned out. He’s been a mediocre 9-11 since leaving the Vikings, however.
For a franchise that has struggled to find a quarterback, this isn’t an encouraging body of work. The veteran signings sound a lot like Case Keenum and Joe Flacco, while the draft picks resemble Drew Lock, Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian.
George Paton may turn out to be a fine general manager. He might even solve the QB riddle in Denver. But there’s nothing in his history that suggests he’s adept at finding those answers.
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