Following the loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Falcons owner – Arthur Blank – fired general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn. Both men led the franchise with integrity and devotion, but the downward trend of the organization caused, in part, by their meager job performance eventually forced Blank to clean house.
The Falcons are in a curious predicament as they transition to new management with a roster not in shape for a rebuild. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones will account for over 30% of the salary cap next year, surrounded by below-average talent nearly everywhere else. The new GM hire will have to determine whether restructuring or extending Ryan and Jones is feasible or if trading the two best players in the franchise’s history to kickstart the rebuild is more logical.
After the Week 1 loss to Seattle, I wrote an overreaction piece on potential head coach and general manager candidates. In this, I will expand on the list of general manager candidates to replace Thomas Dimitroff.
Indianapolis Colts, Assistant GM: Ed Dodds
According to Matt Miller, Ed Dodds is considered to be the best personnel evaluator in the NFL. He recently was John Schneider’s right-hand man in Seattle and an integral part of their Super Bowl runs. Colts’ GM Chris Ballard poached Dodds from Schneider’s staff after earning five division titles and a Super Bowl title during his tenure.
In Seattle, Dodds was partially responsible for drafting Russell Wilson and assembling the legendary Legion of Boom. He has only augmented his reputation in Indianapolis by drafting Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard, both All-Pros at their respective position. But he also finds value outside of the high-valued rounds in the draft. Denico Autry and Kenny Moore were both acquired via free agency, proving Dodd’s ability to acquire talent through multiple mediums.
Kansas City Chiefs, Director of Football Operations: Mike Borgonzi
Since starting with the Chiefs in 2009 as a College Scouting Administrator, Mike Borgonzi has been promoted six times to his current position as the Director of Football Operations. Kansas City has been known for producing high-quality scouts, and Borgonzi is the next scout turned executive. Chris Ballard left the Chiefs to become GM of the Colts, while more recently, Brett Veach was given an in-house promotion. Like Ed Dodds, Borgonzi is also touted as an incredibly thorough evaluator and takes a hands-on approach in scouting. He is an unconventional thinker and prioritizes the team over his own self-interests. Building a good staff is a precursor for building a good roster, and Borgonzi – according to Matt Miller – is praised for the type of staff he would build.
New England Patriots, Director of Player Personnel: Nick Caserio
Nick Caserio is a life-long Patriot. He has been with the team in a varying capacity since 2001 but has been in his current role in personnel since 2008. He was just extended this offseason, which makes one think that he is happy in New England. However, in reports from CBS Sports, the contract details suggest the possibility of a separation, “…But sources said the language in that deal would negate any future attempts to prevent him from pursuing any general manager opportunities prior to its expiration.”
Caserio’s name is once again resurfacing in the media as the Houston Texans pursued him last year and are again linked to him. Atlanta would benefit from someone like Caserio, who has playing, coaching, and administrative experience.
New England Patriots, Front Office Consultant: Eliot Wolf
Many thought that Eliot Wolf would be the internal replacement for Ted Thompson in Green Bay back in 2018. Instead, Brian Gutekunst was selected, and Wolf left the Packers for the Assistant GM position in Cleveland. Wolf worked for the Packers from 2004 until 2017, beginning as a pro personnel assistant and climbing the ranks to the director of football operations. His value in Green Bay was apparent after their Super Bowl victory, earning a promotion as director of pro personnel. He was tasked with rebuilding the Browns and can be credited with where they are now. Wolf is the son of the legendary Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf, who has one of the most impressive scouting trees in NFL history. During his tenure in Green Bay, Ron Wolf hired six scouts that would eventually turn into general managers. His son, Eliot, will surely be the next scout turned executive.
ESPN Analyst: Louis Riddick
With the Las Vegas Raiders upsetting the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday, it is apparent that Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are the real deal. Mayock’s successful transition from NFL Network as a TV analyst to GM of the Raiders has proven the idea of hiring TV analysts is not such a bad one. Louis Riddick has a diverse set of experiences in and around the NFL. He played from 1991-1998 and has even more experience on the administrative side of the NFL.
“Riddick was with the Redskins from 2001-2007, where he started as a pro scout before being promoted to director of personnel. Following that stint, Riddick worked for the Eagles as a pro scout in 2008 until being promoted to assistant director of personnel in 2009. He finished his time in Philadelphia as the director of pro personnel from 2010-2013. From 2010 to 2013, Riddick heavily contributed to drafting Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Dion Lewis, Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry, Nick Foles, Lane Johnson, and Zach Ertz — almost all of whom helped lead the team to a Super Bowl victory. He is known on ESPN to speak his mind even if it is an unpopular opinion. The Falcons could use a leader like Riddick, who is zero-tolerance and hard-nosed.”
NFL Network Draft Analyst: Daniel Jeremiah
Similar to the reasoning behind the Louis Riddick hire, Daniel Jeremiah deserves comparable attention. Hiring outside of the NFL provides an advantageous perspective for the team because members of the media lack bad habits that some scouts develop within the league. Jeremiah has less experience than Riddick but was still a scout and director for the Browns, Eagles, and Ravens. Since his time at NFL Network, there have been reports of Jeremiah declining multiple offers to return to the NFL. I would prefer Riddick over Jeremiah, but he is still worth an interview to expand Arthur Blank’s scope of how to build a Super Bowl team.
Baltimore Ravens, Director of Player Personnel: Joe Hortiz
Seattle Seahawks, Co-director of Player Personnel: Scott Fitterer
Seattle Seahawks, Co-director of Player Personnel: Trent Kirchner
New Orleans Saints, Assistant General Manager: Jeff Ireland
Minnesota Vikings, Assistant General Manager: George Paton
San Francisco 49ers, VP of Player personnel: Adam Peters
Photo: Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire