According to Jeff Schultz, Terry Fontenot has made Nick Polk aware that he won’t be back with the team in 2021.
The Falcons have parted ways with Nick Polk, who handled the team's salary cap and negotiated some contracts, as well as scouts Russ Bolinger and Justin Schaaf. New GM Terry Fontenot had interest in bringing Saints' Khai Harley to oversee cap but Harley stayed in New Orleans.
— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) February 1, 2021
Nick Polk was the director of football operations in Atlanta for the past 13 seasons. Throughout those years, he acted as the negotiator on contracts and salary cap expert. The Falcons, as many of you know, are not in an ideal situation with the league’s salary cap, but this isn’t Polk’s fault.
The person responsible for the contract negotiations and the team’s standing with the salary cap is tasked with making the money work, not the actual final decisions. Nick Polk wasn’t the one advocating for Julio Jones’ latest extension, nor was he fighting against it. Thomas Dimitroff’s executive decision to keep Julio was then passed to Polk to “make it work”.
According to Shultz, Terry Fontenot was interested in bringing in Khai Harley to replace Polk — in the same role — but Harley remained in New Orleans. So it was clearly Fontenot’s decision to let Polk go, who was a longtime friend of President and CEO Rich McKay. Many thought McKay was the problem, that he was some dictator-ish executive who had no business dealing with the Falcons’ football side.
Well, this shows that McKay’s role isn’t as far-reaching as many thought. In a presser, Arthur Blank said that McKay would be there to run the day-to-day and lend an ear to any subordinates that might need it, as the Falcons’ owner is taking a step back from the team. It was Fontenot’s decision, and McKay (that we know of) didn’t oppose the removal of a longtime friend.
Polk had been interviewed for the Washington Football Team’s vacant general manager position but was ultimately beat out by Martin Mayhew. Falcons fans should feel indifferent about Polk’s departure, as he was very good at his job and just wasn’t what Fontenot needed. This from my article.
“… Nick Polk is an integral part of the Falcons. He has been with the team for 16 years in some capacity, but most recently as the teams’ salary cap expert. This is a highly coveted skill among general manager candidates with the league’s shrinking salary cap.”
The main takeaway should be that Terry Fontenot, Rich McKay, and Arthur Smith all have their respective responsibilities, and that this organization is being built the right way. The front office and coaching staff are coming together, and fans should be excited about what the future holds for the city of Atlanta.
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