Falcons To Interview Rick Smith, Terry Fontenot, Brad Holmes For GM Job

The Falcons’ reported interest in Rick Smith and Saints assistant GM Terry Fontenot will lead to interviews, and more candidates are surfacing for the post. Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes will join the pair in interviewing for the Falcons’ GM position, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Smith landed an NFL GM gig before recently fired Falcons personnel boss Thomas Dimitroff, rising to that post in Houston in 2006. Smith stayed in that job for 12 years, stepping down after the 2017 season to care for his wife after a breast cancer diagnosis. Tiffany Smith died in January 2019. Rick Smith expressed interest in returning to an executive role late last year and was connected to the yet-to-be-filled Washington GM vacancy earlier this year. A clearer path may emerge in Atlanta.

Fontenot surfaced in the Jets’ GM search last year, interviewing for the job that went to Joe Douglas, and was connected to the Falcons recently. Promoted from Saints pro scouting director to assistant GM earlier this year, Fontenot has been with the Falcons’ top rival for 16 years.

Holmes has lived in Atlanta for several years, scouting ACC and SEC talent, and is serving under ex-Falcons exec Les Snead with the Rams. Snead rose to his current role after working under Falcons president Rich McKay from 2009-11. Holmes has been with the Rams throughout Snead’s eight-plus-year tenure.

Should the Falcons hire Fontenot or Holmes, it would lead to the NFL sending draft picks to another NFC team. The NFL passed a recent initiative aimed at increasing minority hires for GM posts. Both Fontenot and Holmes are Black, which would lead to either the Saints or Rams receiving two Round 3 picks if they were hired for the Falcons post. Smith is also Black but does not apply to this newly implemented rule, being an executive free agent.

It is unclear when these interviews will take place, but the Falcons can begin that process sooner than their coaching interview circuit. The Falcons fired Dimitroff and Dan Quinn in October after an 0-5 start.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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21 comments on “Falcons To Interview Rick Smith, Terry Fontenot, Brad Holmes For GM Job

  1. JJB0811

    The interim HC should get a shot. He has Atlanta playing good. I’d stick w/ Matt at QB, not a HoF’er but he can win games, & re-build the D. Should be a good job for the GM.

    • Courtside

      I’m not sold on Morris, his time as HC in Tampa is still recent memory

      • tank62

        He was 35 when he got whacked by Tampa Bay
        He has grown a ton. I’ll take Raheem Morris in Chicago

        • wagner13

          He didn’t even do that badly either. Sure, 2011 was an unmitigated disaster, but led a talent-deprieved 2010 squad to double-digit victories. In fact, I would blame his oust on Freeman more than anything.

          He certainly lacks the upside of some of the young offensive minds, such as Bieniemy and Daboll, but could provide leadership for a squad in need of organizational stability like Detroit. Ron Rivera seems to be doing a similar job in Washington atm.

          As for Ryan, I believe it is time to move on. Matt can post pretty numbers if the surrounding cast is elite, but he cannot individually transform a team into a playoff contender, which has been the evident the past couple of seasons. By the time the Falcons rebuild their franchise, Ryan will be too old. Someone like the Patriots, Bears, or Colts should trade for him. Atlanta could allow their new head coach to select his quarterback of choice in the upcoming draft. That would certainly make the gig more appealing IMO

      • How much can you read into that, though? He was very young. Sometimes coaches fail one place before having success somewhere else. Even Belichick was 36-44 with Cleveland before going to NE.

        Morris took a team that was 0-5 and has so far gone 4-3 with them. Same players, massive turnaround. I think they’d be foolish to not sign him.

        • UGA_Steve

          It’s a combo of all of the above for me. I am not sold on him, his record in Tampa was actually not bad, and he was a young head coach that has possibly grown.

          I would have no problem with the Falcons keeping him on over some old fossil re-tread. Now, if a truly inspiring type of mind came along I wouldn’t mind losing Morris, and I know he will get a shot somewhere soon.

  2. Ak185

    Smith seems like the pick then, right? No compensation to a rival, or another NFC opponent that Atlanta could face later on in a hypothetical playoff situation. Plus his proven track record in Houston, which was mostly competent, and shows that he at least knows what to expect as a GM.

    I wondered why, if the NFL was going to approve this picks initiative, they didn’t just give them to the hiring team? There’s not really an argument against it versus the current system, other than one saying that it could lead to teams hiring minority GMs just to acquire picks. Well, the current system might lead to teams avoiding GMs just for picks. The reality is that the instant you get picks involved you are going to have these issues. That said, the implementation doesn’t seem optimal. I definitely don’t agree with the approach, but if I were doing it and really wanted to boost a minority presence, I’d give the hiring team a pick AND the hired-from team one as well, instead of two to the former team.

    • wagner13

      Your counter solution makes sense, but if both teams are receiving draft compensation anyway, why even bother? I really do not think the NFL cared about properly addressing the situation and just slapped together this rule in what is essentially a PR move. I do not have an answer either, but it really takes away from the idea of treating every candidate equally if hiring minorities provides a team with draft compensation IMO. Strongly agree with your points

      • Ak185

        Well, it’s mostly just to incentivize hiring, right? I disagree entirely with the approach, but if I were to do it, I’d incentivize the team hiring to get the candidate I want them to and I’d incentivize the team losing him for promoting and advertising the candidate (advertising through both his work opportunities and/or actual recommendations).

        Teams are rewarded for pushing the point. It might hurt less to give a rival a free pick if you get a free pick too. And, if you don’t have confidence that your new guy can use that pick better or at least as well as your rival, maybe you shouldn’t be hiring him anyway. I was half-joking there, but it is something to consider. And it addresses situations that fall through the cracks, like Rick Smith being hired out of free agency.

        Again, I don’t like this method of pushing the agenda, but they’re not really doing it the best way to get the result that they want.

        • UGA_Steve

          I agreed with you when I first read it, but after thinking it through, I like the current approach.

          If they had given picks to a hiring team, could you imagine the abuse of the rule that would take place? It would be ugly. They couldn’t cap it because that would create negative publicity.

          In the version of the rule they have, it incentivizes not only hiring a minority, but to also help that minority do well enough in their role to potentially be sought after by other teams. I do kind of see the logic in this approach.

          Personally, I think they should have done a 1 and 1 pick scenario. One for the receiving the new coach and one team for the initial hire. Roll them down for each successive hire over a three year period before a reset to prevent abuse. Done and done.

          That being said, all of these approaches are examples of racism at their finest. But racism against the majority seems to be acceptable. I do understand the need for it though.

          • Ak185

            Well, yes, agreed, that’s what I was suggesting. A I pick and 1 pick scenario. Abuse would certainly happen, but it already kind of is-only the other way. Teams are hesitant to give others picks, and avoid candidates.

            I think we all agree that this is a shoddy attempt at addressing an issue, however.

  3. roddo311

    I’m confused by the new initiative. A team has to give up 2 draft picks for hiring a minority coach or GM? Doesn’t that disincentive the hiring? Am I wrong here? If someone could please explain, I’d greatly appreciate it!

    • bobulated

      I don’t think the hiring team gives up anything but it certainly seems like a disincentive for the Falcons to hire Fontenot gaining two 3rds for their division rival Saints.

      • roddo311

        Gotcha. It would make way more sense if the hiring team received compensation (if the goal is to incentivize minority hirings).

        • roddo311

          Figured it out. The team losing the candidate gets additional third round picks. The team signing doesn’t lose any picks. They are just extra picks added to the third round.

      • tward09

        I believe the hiring team, the Falcons in this case, would have to give up 2 3rd-rounders if they were to take, we’ll use Terry Fontenot as our example here, from the Saints.

        • Ak185

          They don’t lose any picks, the Saints just get some extras. The concern is how their already strong division rival will use them against the Falcons to get better.

  4. crosseyedlemon

    A radical concept would be to have teams draft coaches and GMs just as they do college prospects. Why should one group have the freedom to select their destination while the other group does not?

    • Ak185

      Can’t really say that wouldn’t be interesting. A coach/GM draft every, say, five years? Realistic? No. Interesting? Certainly.

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