As I’ve said a few times, I’d be shocked if Atlanta doesn’t have a new General Manager by Friday, and a Head Coach shortly after.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 12, 2021
It was reported the day before Christmas that Rick Smith was the frontrunner for the Falcons. Yesterday, national reports were swirling that the Falcons could pair Terry Fontenot with Joe Brady. I think Atlanta will interview Smith one more time before making a final decision between these three. We’ve profiled each candidate so far: Smith here, Holmes here, and Fontenot here. I’ll provide some snippets from each to give you some insight into what each guy is about, as well as some pros and cons of hiring Terry Fontenot.
From 2006 to 2017, he served as the Texans general manager. In 2012, he welcomed more control and a new title, becoming the team’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations and general manager. As I mentioned before, Smith left the Texans after the 2017 season. It has been well documented the foremost motive for Smith’s departure was his wife’s battle with breast cancer. Tiffany Smith passed away on January 31, 2019, a little more than a year after Rick stepped away from football.
Although Smith left his position to be with his family and care for his wife, it cannot be understated how the relationship between himself and Bill O’Brien affected his decision. By 2017, Rick and former Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, who had been hired three years earlier by owner Bob McNair with input from Rick, were having differences about how the organization was being run. After Smith decided to take a minimum 12-month leave of absence, McNair gave most of Rick’s authority to O’Brien. Rick says McNair called him to his office six months later and told him he no longer saw a place for him in the organization.
The 41 year old Holmes currently lives in Atlanta and won a National Championship at NC A&T. Holmes has done a good job of finding value later in the draft — especially considering LA’s recent lack of draft capital in the early rounds. Holmes notably oversaw the drafting of possibly the greatest defensive lineman of all time in Aaron Donald.
Fontenot has been with the AINTS for over 18 years, which has undoubtedly been their best years. He’s been heavily involved as a scout and with player personnel during his time.
While the cap situation in New Orleans for 2021 is actually a dumpster fire, Fontenot mostly handles player evaluation and scouting for pro leagues and future opponents (and he’s good at it).