Nick Polk

Falcons Part Ways With Exec Nick Polk

Nick Polk emerged on Washington’s general manager radar last month, and while he did not end up landing that job, the longtime Falcons staffer is now an executive free agent.

The Falcons are parting ways with Polk, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio notes. The team confirmed the move this week. Polk, who served as the team’s director of football operations, had been with the Falcons for most of this century.

Polk spent 18 years with the Falcons. His arrival predated both Thomas Dimitroff and Rich McKay‘s. Dimitroff deployed Polk on salary cap matters and contract negotiations. Prior to the promotion to his most recent job, Polk served as the team’s director of football administration.

Before hiring Martin Mayhew as its next GM, Washington requested an interview with Polk earlier this year. Interestingly, the Falcons hired a longtime Washington staffer to work as a front office lieutenant. Last week, the team hired Kyle Smith, whom Washington did not interview for its GM position.

This move is not exactly surprising. The Falcons are starting a new era, with ex-Saints exec Terry Fontenot coming over to replace Dimitroff. This marks the Falcons’ first GM change in 13 years. Their reformed front office has work to do, however. The team projected to be nearly $40MM over what is expected to be a reduced 2021 salary cap.

Washington Eyeing Chargers’ JoJo Wooden, Falcons’ Nick Polk For GM Job

Two more candidates for Washington’s GM job surfaced Thursday. The team is expected to interview Chargers executive JoJo Wooden, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, who adds Washington also submitted an interview request to Falcons exec Nick Polk (Twitter links).

After the Washington GM job sat vacant for a year, the team is moving ahead with several candidates for the position. These two join ex-GMs Marty Hurney, Martin Mayhew and Rick Smith, along with Titans staffer Ryan Cowden, in Washington’s search so far. Wooden and Polk are much less seasoned on the GM circuit, but each has been a high-ranking NFL exec for well over a decade.

Wooden serves as the Chargers’ director of player personnel and has been with the franchise since Tom Telesco‘s 2013 arrival. A Syracuse linebacker in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Wooden spent 16 seasons with the Jets, beginning under Bill Parcells in the late ’90s. Wooden worked as Gang Green’s assistant player personnel director for six seasons prior to a relocation to San Diego.

Polk has been the Falcons’ director of football operations for 11 years, but with the Falcons transitioning to perhaps Terry Fontenot at GM, Thomas Dimitroff-era execs’ roles certainly stand to be in flux. However, Polk has been with the Falcons for multiple GM regimes, beginning with the team prior to Dimitroff’s arrival.

2021 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

This year’s NFL GM carousel figures to be more active than usual. The Falcons, Lions, Panthers, Texans, and Jaguars are all on the hunt for a new front office leader. And that’s only the official list. The real tally shows six clubs looking for a GM, since the Washington Football Team is expected to install a GM to work alongside head coach Ron Rivera. By mid-January, we could easily see a couple more jobs opening up — that’d put ~25% of the NFL on the market.

We’ll keep track of the GM candidates for each club here, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make general manager changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here’s the current breakdown:

Updated 1-19-21 (7:02pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers 

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Washington Football Team

Latest On 49ers’ GM Search

Before he withdrew from San Francisco’s general manager search Friday, Packers player personnel director Brian Gutekunst had been the favorite to land the job “for two weeks,” a source close to the 49ers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle).

49ers generic (featured)

Eliot Wolf, another member of Green Bay’s front office, preceded Gutekunst in pulling out Thursday despite being a finalist for the position in San Francisco. The decisions Gutekunst and Wolf made don’t necessarily reflect poorly on the Niners, though, as a source close to the two told Jason Cole of Bleacher Report that “other factors” outside the team’s control led to their exits from the derby (Twitter link).

With Gutekunst and Wolf out of the picture, the GM-less 49ers could target Falcons director of football operations Nick Polk, tweets Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Polk is familiar with soon-to-be 49ers head coach and current Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, having worked with him in Atlanta the past two seasons. Speculatively, that could give Polk an advantage over the 49ers’ other GM candidates if they do pursue him.

As of now, San Francisco is set to conduct a second interview next week with Vikings assistant GM George Paton. Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough and Jaguars director of player personnel Chris Polian are also possibilities for the 49ers’ GM role. The team hasn’t yet scheduled a second meeting with McDonough, however, and it hasn’t met with Polian at all.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.