| The Detroit News
The Detroit Lions are nearly finished with their initial round of interviews for the team’s vacant general manager position.
The team confirmed it completed two more interviews for the job Wednesday, meeting with Brad Holmes, the Los Angeles Rams’ director of college scouting, and George Paton, the Minnesota Vikings’ assistant GM. That brings the total of confirmed interviews for the job to 10, with at least one more — Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland — scheduled for Friday.
The Lions also are scheduled to interview San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh on Thursday for their head coaching vacancy.
The 41-year-old Holmes, who lives in Atlanta and interviewed for the Falcons’ GM job on Tuesday, has spent his entire 18-year NFL career with the Rams organization, working his way up from a public relations internship through the scouting ranks. He has been the team’s college scouting director since 2013.
Paton has a lengthy resume, serving in a variety of front-office roles with the Vikings since 2006. He’s also no stranger to the Lions’ search committee, having spent almost his entire NFL executive career — with previous stops in Chicago and Miami prior to Minnesota — working alongside current Vikings GM Rick Spielman. Spielman’s brother, Chris, was hired last month to be a special assistant to owner Sheila Ford Hamp and team president Rod Wood and the Lions’ former All-Pro linebacker is part of the interview process.
Paton has been selective with his pursuit of GM jobs in the past, including turning down Detroit in 2016 when the team hired Bob Quinn. But he interviewed in Cleveland last winter and Denver reportedly has put in a request to meet with him this time around.
Wood said Tuesday the team’s interviews up to that point had all been conducted virtually and “probably” would continue that way through this week, though that’s only a requirement for candidates who are under contract with teams currently in the playoffs, per the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. The NFL Network reported that Paton’s interview Wednesday was in person.
“Once we zero in on a finalist or two for either position, we’re definitely going to meet with the person,” Wood said. “So eventually we’ll have face-to-face meetings, but right now everything is virtual. It’s working fine. We’re kind of all used to this. You get a good sense for the person — not maybe the same sense you would in a room with them. It is also pretty productive from a time standpoint. You can do these and not have to fly around the country. I think it’s allowing us to be really productive this week to speak with a number of people that might have been fewer if we had to travel or had to fly in. Eventually there will be face-to-face interviews, for sure.”
The Lions also met with Saints assistant GM Terry Fontenot on Tuesday, and previously interviewed seven other GM candidates: former NFL GMs Rick Smith, Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli, current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick and in-house candidates Lance Newmark, Kyle O’Brien and Rob Lohman.
Saleh will be the fourth known coaching candidate to interview with the team, joining Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who interviewed Monday, former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and interim head coach Darrell Bevell. The team also reportedly has an interview scheduled next week with Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell.