All signs point towards a choice between Brad Holmes or Terry Fontenot to be Atlanta’s next GM. Barring a late push by Rick Smith, it appears a decision will be made between these men before next week. Personally, I think both candidates are very qualified. However, they each bring very different things to the table. It mostly depends on what Atlanta needs for the next 3-5 years, so who fits that mold better? I doubt they’ll be taking my input anytime soon, but I’ll break down both guys and pick who I like.
Let’s start with Fontenot. I’ve already written about some Pros & Cons of hiring him here, but I won’t regurgitate the whole article. Fontenot’s main appeal is what he’s done in New Orleans, scouting future opponents and evaluating NFL free agents.
His 17-year tenure with the Saints is very impressive. Guys like DeMario Davis, Emmanuel Sanders, and Malcolm Jenkins have been vital for New Orleans’ success in 2020, but what I’m more impressed with is how well prepared they are week in and week out despite a glaring need at quarterback. Alvin Kamara has budded into a superstar, and New Orleans has a top defense in the entire NFL.
Some drawbacks to Fontenot are the picks New Orleans would receive if he was hired, his unknown level of involvement with college scouting (which is what New Orleans does well), and his undeniable mess of a cap sheet currently. New Orleans is almost $100 million over the cap for 2021, and it’s clear they’re pushing all of their chips in now. Navigating the cap will be important for the Falcons moving forward, so that is a bit concerning.
Holmes is the Director of College Scouting for the Rams, so he and Fontenot do two very different things. Holmes has drafted extremely well since taking over the role in 2013, and he’s been with the Rams for 18 seasons. Not only has he drafted Aaron Donald, but he has found value all over the board, which has been crucial considering all the early picks the Rams have traded for stars like Jalen Ramsey. That move turned out perfectly, but the Rams are afloat because they have drafted well. Jared Goff and Aaron Donald are on massive contracts. However, the Rams have let go of guys like Dante Fowler Jr and Todd Gurley… at the right time. Now, was that Holmes’ decision? Who knows. Did he help draft well enough to make moving on from them palatable? Absolutely.
When it really gets down to brass tacks, I have to give Holmes the edge here. He’s an Atlanta native that fans will be far more patient with than a lifetime Saint. As untrusting as this fanbase is right now, that’s important. Los Angeles’ roster is littered with underrated players like Austin Blythe, Darrell Henderson, Darious Williams, Jordan Fuller, John Johnson, and others. Atlanta is hurting for money; I think it’s more important to properly evaluate college talent than pro talent right now. Holmes feels like the best choice, and hopefully, he’s the next General Manager of the Falcons.