Terry Fontenot

Falcons Hire Terry Fontenot As GM

It’s official. On Tuesday morning, the Falcons announced that they have hired Terry Fontenot as their new GM.

[RELATED: Falcons Hire Arthur Smith]

The Saints’ assistant GM of pro personnel reportedly shook hands (or, elbow-bumped) on a deal last week. However, he was barred from taking the job while the Saints were in the midst of the playoffs. Then, the Buccaneers eliminated the Saints on Sunday, clearing the way for Fontenot to move on to his new NFC South home.

To date, Fontenot has spent his entire 18-year career with the Saints. After seven seasons as a pro scout, seven seasons as director of pro scouting, and four years in his current role, the Falcons believe that he’s ready to lead his own front office.

When we started this process we were focused on finding someone that not only has a track record of identifying key building blocks that result in successful teams, but also someone who focuses on cohesive relationships within the building. We feel very strongly that we’ve found that individual in Terry Fontenot,” said owner Arthur Blank. “In his past positions, he has shown the ability to make strong decisions and judgments that result in championship-caliber teams, while also understanding a variety of viewpoints and respecting a collaborative process throughout.

“Landing a leader of Terry’s stature, I believe our organization, players, fans and community will have confidence in our approach throughout this process as I am certain Terry will represent them and the expectations they have to a high level.”

With Fontenot and Arthur Smith in place, the Falcons will now focus on rounding out their coaching staff.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Miller, Paton, Lock

Broncos LB Von Miller is the subject of a criminal investigation in Parker, CO, as Mike Klis of 9News.com was among those to report (via Twitter). Parker police would not comment on the nature of the investigation, though a report from FOX 31 suggests that it pertains to domestic abuse allegations levied against Miller by his ex-fiancée. The Broncos issued a statement indicating they are aware of the situation and are in the process of gathering more info.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, a decision on whether charges will be filed will not be made for several weeks. Obviously, any allegations of domestic violence are serious and outweigh any on-field concerns, but Miller’s future with the Broncos was already in doubt. He missed the entire 2020 campaign due to an ankle injury, and though he earned Pro Bowl honors in 2019, his eight sacks that year marked a career low (aside from a five-sack effort in 2013, when he played in just nine games).

Klis reports in a full-length piece that the Broncos will ask Miller to take a pay cut. The soon-to-be 32-year-old is due a $17.5MM base salary in 2021 — the last year of his current contract — but carries a $22.225MM cap charge due to an earlier restructure. Denver could release him and create $18MM in cap space, and given that Miller is unlikely to earn $17.5MM on the open market, he may be amenable to a reduction in pay. If the domestic allegations are substantiated, he can definitely bank on a suspension.

Now for more from the Mile High City:

  • In the same piece linked above, Klis examines the most pressing questions for new GM George Paton. Paton and HC Vic Fangio will report to John Elway in the team’s revamped power structure, but Paton will have control over personnel matters. One of his first orders of business — aside from the Miller issue — will be to sort out the Broncos’ QB situation. Veteran signal-callers like Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson may or may not be available on the trade market, and even if a blockbuster trade doesn’t happen, Klis expects Paton to bring in legitimate competition for incumbent passer Drew Lock. Paton will also have the No. 9 overall pick at his disposal.
  • The contract situation of safety Justin Simmons will need to be addressed as well. Simmons and the Broncos were unable to come to terms on a multi-year contract last offseason, so the newly-minted Pro Bowler played out the 2020 season under a $11.4MM franchise tag. Klis suggests that Simmons could adjust his asking price on a long-term deal given the expected decrease in the 2021 salary cap, and he also says a second tag — worth about $13.7MM — could be in play.
  • Saints vice president of pro personnel Terry Fontenot was the runner-up to Paton in the Broncos’ GM hunt, as Klis tweets. Denver was able to convince Paton — who had been a hot GM candidate for years — to finally leave Minnesota, but the club was certainly impressed by Fontenot, who is now said to be the Falcons’ top choice for their GM vacancy.

Falcons To Hire Terry Fontenot?

The Falcons have identified Terry Fontenot as their top choice to be their next GM, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). New Orleans’ assistant GM for pro personnel could be anointed as soon as the Saints’ season ends. For Fontenot, that could be as soon as Monday, though he’ll be rooting for a February signing.

[RELATED: Falcons Have Second Interview With Arthur Smith]

Fontenot was said to be a finalist for the job, along with Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes. Colts college scouting director Morocco Brown, Bills exec Joe Schoen, and former Texans GM Rick Smith were considered, along with internal candidate Anthony Robinson.

To date, Fontenot has spent his entire 18-year career with the Saints. After seven seasons as a pro scout, seven seasons as director of pro scouting, and four years in his current role, he’ll run his own front office in the same division.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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 Lions GM Search

Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes is in Detroit for a second interview, which will occur Tuesday. He is the first such GM candidate to meet with the Lions a second time during this cycle. He may not be the only exec the Lions meet with twice.

The Lions want to bring Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Saints execs Jeff Ireland and Terry Fontenot back for second meetings, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (on Twitter). Detroit also added Indianapolis assistant GM Ed Dodds to its interview list, meeting with him Tuesday. The Lions were evidently impressed, with Breer noting they would like to speak with Dodds again.

Dodds recently bowed out of the wide-ranging Panthers GM search, leaving only the Lions pursuing him. The former Seahawks exec may be connected to another ex-Seattle staffer. The Lions have been connected to 49ers DC Robert Saleh about their HC vacancy for weeks, and the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers notes some believe Dodds would want to bring Saleh with him to Detroit (Twitter link). Saleh and Dodds were both with the Seahawks from 2011-13, though Saleh was only a defensive quality control coach at that point.

A Michigan native, Saleh interviewed for the Lions job last week but remains in the mix for other gigs — a list that now includes Philadelphia. Saleh has also been connected to an Adam Peters HC-GM pairing, but Peters is not a Lions GM candidate.

Paton and Fontenot remain in the mix for the Broncos GM post, having booked second interviews with Denver. While the longtime Vikings exec has been quite particular in past GM searches, he has remained a sought-after candidate. Fontenot, who interviewed for the Jets’ GM job in 2019, and Ireland — the former Dolphins GM — each went through virtual interviews for the Detroit job last week. Holmes is a Falcons finalist as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Brad Holmes Interviewing With Lions And Falcons A Second Time

Rams exec Brad Holmes appears to be picking up steam as general manager searches continue across the league. Holmes is flying to Detroit for a second interview with the Lions tonight, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Los Angeles’ director of college scouting also had a second interview with the Falcons over the weekend, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets. Schefter writes that Holmes is now “tracking to land a GM job.” Given the success the Rams have had in the Sean McVay era, it’s not too surprising he’s turning into a hot name. Pelissero writes that Holmes is one of the finalists for Atlanta’s job, along with Saints exec Terry Fontenot, and that former Texans GM Rick Smith is still in the mix there as well.

Holmes has had a remarkable journey, staring with the Rams as a PR intern all the way back in 2003 and rising up the ranks of the organization ever since. He became the director of college scouting in 2013. The Lions had been interested in luring John Schneider away from Seattle, but with Schneider getting an extension through 2027 earlier today, that obviously isn’t happening.

George Paton, Terry Fontenot Get Second Broncos Interviews

Vikings’ Assistant GM/VP of Player Personnel George Paton will have a second meeting with the Broncos on Tuesday, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Ditto for Saints assistant GM Terry Fontenot, per Mike Klis of KUSA (Twitter link).

Bears exec Champ Kelly and Patriots assistant director of player personnel Dave Ziegler are among the other external candidates for the position. Ziegler has since backed out, opting to stay in New England. The Broncos also interviewed their own college scouting director, Brian Stark, though it’s not clear if he’s still in the running.

Fontenot has also been considered by the Lions, Jaguars, and Panthers in this cycle. The 40-year-old has been with New Orleans for 16 years. Paton, meanwhile, has been a hot GM candidate for some time. But, in years past, he rebuffed a number of opportunities.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Broncos GM Search

It’s going to be a busy day for the Broncos, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the organization will be interviewing three general manager candidates on Saturday. The list of interviewees includes Patriots assistant director of player personnel Dave Ziegler, Saints vice president of pro personnel Terry Fontenot, and Broncos director of college scouting Brian Stark.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard Ziegler connected to Denver’s GM vacancy. We learned earlier this week that the Broncos had requested an interview from New England, and the Patriots apparently consented (despite losing Monti Ossenfort last year and Nick Caserio this year). The 43-year-old Ziegler has risen from the scouting level to director of pro personnel to his current post. The Patriots promoted Ziegler to assistant player personnel director last year.

Promoted from Saints pro scouting director to assistant GM earlier this year, Fontenot has been with New Orleans for 16 years. The 40-year-old was connected to the Jets GM vacancy last offseason, and he’s emerged as a candidate for the Falcons, Lions, and Jaguars gigs in 2021.

Stark appears to be the top internal candidate for the opening. Stark is currently serving as Denver’s director of college scouting, with Mike Klis of 9News in Denver tweeting that the executive “is well-respected in NFL” and considered a “rising football exec” among Broncos brass. Prior to his stint in Denver, Stark served as an offensive coordinator at Yale University.

As our 2021 NFL General Manager Search Tracker shows, this will increase Denver’s search to five candidates, as Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly and Vikings assistant GM George Paton have also been connected to the job. The Broncos are clearly evaluating all of their options as they search for a GM for the first time in 10 years. Earlier this month, John Elway gave up personnel control of the Broncos and moved to the role of President of Football Operations.

GM Notes: Colts, Ballard, Jets, Douglas, Broncos, Kelly, Texans, Khan, Jaguars, Fontenot

We’ve been passing along a ton of notes on GM interviews and searches, so we thought we’d switch things up a little bit with a couple of non-vacancy related GM items. First off, Colts GM Chris Ballard has done a great job leading Indy through some bumpy times, and it sounds like he’s about to be rewarded. The Colts intend on extending his contract, which runs through May of 2022, before training camp starts in July, owner Jim Irsay told Zak Keefer of The Athletic. Head coach Frank Reich is under contract longer so his situation isn’t as pressing, but Irsay also told Keefer that Reich isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, which obviously isn’t surprising.

Even after Josh McDaniels famously backed out of taking the head coaching job at the last minute, and even after Andrew Luck retired right before the start of last season, Ballard has done a commendable job keeping things steady and under control. He’s also made some great middle round draft picks, his blockbuster trade for DeForest Buckner has worked out really well, and his bold move to sign Philip Rivers this offseason resulted in an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. The Colts have a few question marks, but things seem well set up for the future, and Ballard will be the architect for a long time it sounds like.

Here’s more from front offices around the league:

  • The Jets fired Adam Gase this week, and when they hire a new head coach, there could be a change in the hierarchy to go with it. Recently Jets coaches and GMs have both reported directly to owners/chairman Woody and Christopher Johnson, which has led to a fair bit of drama and chaos. Now with Joe Douglas as GM, that might no longer be the case. Christopher raved about Douglas during his end of year media availability, and said “a change in structure is under consideration, no question,” meaning the new head coach may work under Douglas and report to him, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY tweets. It looks like Douglas is cementing his grip on power in the building this offseason, and the new head coach might not have as much clout within the building as guys like Gase, Todd Bowles, and Rex Ryan did.
  • Ok, now back to interviews. As soon as the Broncos announced their major shakeup yesterday with John Elway hiring a GM and giving up roster control, people highlighted Champ Kelly as a name to watch. Kelly, currently an exec with the Bears, was in Denver from 2007-14. Now the interest is official, as the team has requested an interview with him, Mike Klis of Denver 9 News tweets. It’s early in the process, but by all accounts Kelly is one of the favorites for the job. The most interesting thing to come out of this search though might be the dynamic between the new GM and Elway, who will still be lingering over the whole operation as president of football ops. It has the potential to get messy.
  • The Texans continued their search as they start from scratch in the post-Bill O’Brien era, interviewing Steelers exec Omar Khan on Monday. Khan has been in Pittsburgh in various roles since all the way back in 2001, and currently serves as their chief contract negotiator. He’s received a bit of GM buzz in the past, but not a ton.
  • Meanwhile, the Jaguars have requested to interview Saints assistant GM Terry Fontenot, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. We’ve already heard that Fontenot will interview with the Lions and Falcons, so he appears to be a hot candidate this time around. We heard yesterday that Fontenot is a “very strong” candidate for the Detroit job.

GM Interviews: Lions, Falcons, Panthers

It’s been a very busy Monday after Week 17 so far, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. There are a number of GM openings around the league, and interview requests for execs are flying in. Let’s get you caught up on all the latest:

  • Saints VP/assistant GM for pro personnel Terry Fontenot is scheduled to interview for the Lions GM job on Tuesday and the Falcons GM job on Wednesday, Albert Breer of The MMQB tweets. The Falcons have also requested a GM interview with Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). Along with Rick Smith, these were the top names expected to be in the mix in Atlanta. Fontenot isn’t the only Saints exec in the mix, as New Orleans assistant GM Jeff Ireland has been requested by the Panthers and Lions, Pelissero tweets.
  • Finally (for now), the Lions are also going to interview Vikings assistant GM George Paton, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Rapsheet says both Paton and Fontenot are “very strong candidates” for the Detroit job. Paton has drawn interest before, and has been in Minnesota’s front office since the 2007 season.
  • The Panthers are casting a wide net, and they’re also requesting to interview Chiefs assistant director of player personnel Ryan Poles for the vacancy created by Marty Hurney’s firing, Rapoport tweets. One more, as Carolina has officially requested to interview 49ers VP of Player Personnel Adam Peters, Rapoport tweets. We had heard they might have some interest in Peters, and Rapoport notes that he spent time with head coach Matt Rhule at UCLA and is “one to watch” here.
  • The Falcons have requested Colts college scouting director Morocco Brown, Pelissero tweets. Indy’s GM Chris Ballard is very highly regarded, so it’s not surprising that teams are digging into some of his deputies. Brown previously had personnel roles with Cleveland (2014-15) and Washington (2008-13).