The Cleveland Browns could hire Minnesota Vikings vice president of player personnel/assistant general manager George Paton as their next general manager in the coming days, according to Paton interviewed for the position Saturday. NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero adds that the two parties will meet in Berea, Ohio in the next couple of days to ensure everyone is comfortable moving forward. 

The other finalist is presumably Philadelphia Eagles vice president of football operations Andrew Berry. Berry was with the Browns from 2016-2018 and is a favorite of ownership as well as chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta. New England Patriots college scouting director Monti Ossenfort also interviewed for the position. 

The Browns hired Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as their head coach earlier this month. During the search, owner Jimmy Haslam stated his intentions to hire a head coach and allow that person to be involved in the team’s general manager search. 

“We are going to hire the coach first and then we will do the GM search. The coach will be involved in that process but will not have the final say.  [The head coach] will not have the final say but will be heavily involved in that process. In you all’s terms, we will not have an ‘arranged marriage.’ Let me just continue on because I think I know what you are going to ask, the coach and the GM will report to ownership as equals and obviously married up with each other,” Haslam said.   

Stefanski spent his entire NFL coaching career with Minnesota from 2006-2019. Paton was alongside him for all but one of those years, so the two have a strong relationship. With a similar philosophy in mind, the organization’s thinking should be stream-lined. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has been in Minnesota since 2006 as well. His respect and admiration for Stefanski run deep. Paton has turned down multiple general manager opportunities over the years. He was a finalist for the San Francisco 49ers vacancy in 2017 but lost out to John Lynch. 

Cleveland reportedly offered former general manager John Dorsey a re-structured role within the organization but the seasoned personnel executive declined, which led to a parting of ways on Dec. 31. For at least the time being, the team still employs his loyal deputies: assistant general manager Eliot Wolf and vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith

The Browns do not have many unrestricted free agents this offseason but there are some key names slated to hit the open market if Cleveland doesn’t act fast including Pro Bowl inside linebacker Joe Schobert’s, starting left tackle Greg Robinson and free safety Damarious Randall. Armed with the No. 10 overall selection, the franchise has ample assets to address their biggest offseason needs, which can be found at CBS Sports along with some potential prospects to watch.