Falcons GM Terry Fontenot not seen favorably in annual ranking

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The Falcons have been very busy. To kick off the offseason, Terry Fontenot swung a trade to acquire Jonnu Smith from the Patriots and made Chris Lindstrom the highest-paid guard in the league.

He would go on to sign a number of free agents, including but not limited to Jessie Bates III, Kaden Elliss, David Onyemata, and Calais Campbell. He also acquired former third-overall pick Jeff Okudah from the Lions in a high-upside, low-risk move.

Moreover, new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen seems to be an up-and-coming coach. Fontenot’s work can’t be judged immediately, but I feel safe in saying that most of them will be looked upon favorably.

Gregg Rosenthal doesn’t think so. In his annual GM rankings, the Falcons exec came in as the 21st-ranked executive. Here are Rosenthal’s parameters:

“This year’s list attempts to evaluate each current NFL decision maker on how he built his roster for the present and future, with past accomplishments weighed to a lesser extent. Draft record, coach hiring, free agency spending, cap management, trades and even handling of the press were all taken into consideration.”

After two seasons of cleaning up the last regime’s mess, it’s go time for Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith. They spent huge money to retain two pieces on an offensive line that improved as a run-blocking unit in 2022. Fontenot has used the team’s ample cap space to sign or trade for a lot of veterans like Jessie BatesJonnu SmithCalais CampbellJeff OkudahDavid OnyemataKaden Elliss and Mack Hollins, most of whom will start.

Atlanta is the most confounding team to avoid Lamar Jackson, but that decision is certainly not only up to Fontenot.

To make the ranking even worse, there were only 25 GMs ranked because seven of them were too new. Rosenthal required at least two drafts to make the list. Fontenot was 21st out of 25.

It’s not a great ranking, but I’m willing to bet he rises substantially up these rankings next year. His work this offseason and even in last year’s draft won’t reveal itself until the 2023 campaign. If the Falcons come out and win the division, every move will be heralded.

Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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