Thomas Dimitroff

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

Lions To Interview Thomas Dimitroff

The Lions are set to interview former Falcons exec Thomas Dimitroff for their GM vacancy, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The two-time Executive of the Year was dismissed earlier this year, putting him out of the NFL for the first time in a long time.

[RELATED: Lions Sign Brock To Practice Squad]

Dimitroff is the third known candidate to interview for the post, following former Texans GM Rick Smith and ESPN’s Louis Riddick. Dimitroff — who was one of the league’s longest-tenured GMs before he was fired — helped build the team that reached the Super Bowl following the 2016 season. He’s also responsible for drafting franchise pillars including Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. But, on the whole, many have questioned his scouting track record.

The Lions are expected to cast a wide net, so their search will not be limited to just these three candidates. Their pool may also include former Giants general manager Jerry Reese, who has the support of Ford family advisors.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Fire Dan Quinn, Thomas Dimitroff

The writing was on the wall, but it’s official now. The Falcons have fired both their head coach Dan Quinn as well as general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the team announced Sunday night.

It was clear to just about everyone that Quinn was going to be fired any week now, but the firing of Dimitroff was less widely speculated on. With the house cleaning, team president and CEO Rich McKay will takeover running the football operations for now, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweeted. Quinn is now the second head coach to be shown the door after Bill O’Brien was let go by the Texans earlier this week.

It’s been a remarkable fall from grace for a head coach who was moments away from winning a Super Bowl less than four years ago. It’s been all downhill since then, and that NFC championship team fell apart rapidly. They managed to go 10-6 the following year but were 7-9 in each of the past two, and of course started this season 0-5.

Quinn’s seat was scorching hot last year, but he managed to save his job temporarily as the Falcons closed the season strong. The Falcons are now in a very interesting spot as a franchise, as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones aren’t getting any younger at 35 and 31 respectively. Those guys likely have a couple of high level years left, but a new regime may be interested in looking toward the future.

Quinn developed a reputation as a defensive guru during his time with the Seahawks, but during the Falcons’ most successful times it was always the offense carrying the team. Quinn’s defenses became progressively worse, making the situation untenable.

He coordinated Seattle’s legendary defenses in 2013 and 2014, winning Super Bowl XLVIII with the team. Dimitroff was the Patriots’ director of college scouting before owner Arthur Blank hired him to be Atlanta’s GM in 2008. His first draft pick was none other than Ryan, and his firing ends one of the longest recent front office tenures.

No interim coach has been announced, but at 0-5 there’s very little hope of a postseason berth. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, recently a head coach with the Bucs, would be a natural candidate. With Ryan, Jones, and Calvin Ridley there’s still plenty of talent at the skill positions, but the rest of the roster is in need of a major overhaul.

Quinn finished his run at a nearly even 43-42 through five-plus seasons as the Falcons’ head coach. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on all the fallout, and if you clink the link to the team’s announcement at the top you can read quotes from Blank and McKay on the firings.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Falcons To Keep Dan Quinn, Thomas Dimitroff

The Falcons will be making lots of changes this offseason, but they won’t be in the hunt for a new head coach or general manager. On Friday, the Falcons announced that they’ll retain both Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff in 2020. 

However, they have made one significant change – secondary coach and assistant head coach Raheem Morris has been named as the Falcons’ new defensive coordinator. The move will go into effect immediately after the Falcons’ season finale.

Quinn and Dimitroff will return next year, though they’ll both report directly to Falcons CEO Rich McKay, who will continue to report to owner Arthur Blank. Blank, per the press release, “will retain oversight of the football operation.”

The decision to keep the duo doesn’t come as a huge surprise, given their late season success. The Falcons were disappointing on the whole, but they are riding a three-game winning streak heading into their season finale against the Buccaneers.

Quinn’s seat starting heating up back in November, when the Falcons got off to an atrocious 1-7 start. At the time, Quinn’s defense ranked near the bottom of the league in just about every defensive category, with nearly 400 yards of total offense allowed per game. Things have turned around recently – the Falcons held the Saints to nine points in a Week 10 win and capped the Niners at just 22 points en route to a December upset.

In the 2016 season, Quinn led the Falcons to the Super Bowl, though their painful collapse cost them their first Lombardi Trophy. His club followed up with a 10-6 mark in the following season, but they’ve been on a downhill slide ever since. In 2020, Quinn will return for a sixth season at the helm, giving him an opportunity to right the ship.

Dimitroff has served as the Falcons’ GM since the 2008 season with mixed results, though he is responsible for drafting team pillars including Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, with the latter coming to Atlanta via a king’s ransom of picks. He’ll stay for a 12th season as Falcons GM, though more changes could be coming to the front office:

Every year we evaluate all our football operations and this year I have asked Rich to work closely with Thomas and Dan over the next couple of weeks to conduct a top-to-bottom review, inclusive of structure, processes, resourcing and personnel to identify whatever changes are necessary to enable us to compete consistently at the highest level,” Blank said in a statement. “In my time as owner, and particularly since 2008, we have been one of the winningest teams in the NFC ranking fourth in wins and across the NFL, tied for seventh in wins, and that remains the only acceptable result for us now and in the future.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Owner Discusses Team’s Offseason

Earlier this week, veteran NFL reporter Peter King wrote in his “Football Morning in America” column that Falcons owner Arthur Blank “is getting restless.” However, in a statement to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Blank said that wasn’t the case, as the owner was happy with the organization’s offseason.

“I’m feeling very good about what (general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff) and (coach) Dan (Quinn) have done this offseason,” Blank said. “We have some key guys getting healthy again, the draft picks are getting up to speed, the new coordinators are meshing well and I’m confident we’re going to be ready to go for a very competitive training camp. I like where we’re going.”

The Falcons have been especially focused on improving their offensive line this offseason. The front office used a pair of first-rounders to select linemen Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary, and they also added projected starter James Carpenter via free agency. The team’s other notable offseason moves include signing defensive linemen Adrian Clayborn and Tyeler Davison, and they also added backup tight end Luke Stocker. The Falcons even reshaped their coaching staff, hiring Dirk Koetter as their offensive coordinator and Ben Kotwica as their special teams coordinator.

However, it isn’t unfair to wonder if the Falcons are floundering. As King noted in his article, the team is 18-17 over their past 35 games (a string that starts with their devastating Super Bowl loss to the Patriots). Furthermore, the team is set to pay quarterback Matt Ryan $30MM over the next half-decade, and they’ll presumably be paying wideout Julio Jones a lucrative contract, as well.

The Falcons have head coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff under contract through 2022. Their deals would indicate that their fates are tied together, but Blank previously said the duo isn’t necessarily linked if the 2019 season goes poorly.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Rumors: Coleman, Panthers, Olsen

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff gave an indication on the future status of running back Tevin Coleman, ESPN’s Vaughn McClure writes.

“Tevin’s going to do well, wherever he is,” he said.

The stumble of words just goes to confirm what many have expected: That Coleman will not be back with the Falcons in 2019. Projected as the No. 2 free agent running back behind Le’Veon Bell, the Indiana product is due for a big payday. That wasn’t likely to come from the Falcons, who already have the league’s third-highest-paid running back on the roster in Devonta Freeman.

The Falcons also have a capable backup ready to take Coleman’s role in Ito Smith, who gained 315 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. While it won’t be with the Falcons, Coleman is sure to command a primary back role with another team after showcasing a dual-threat skill set in his time in Atlanta.

Here’s more from around the NFC South:

  • If the Panthers are to bring in a new quarterback in 2019, head coach Ron Rivera said it is more likely to come through the draft rather than free agency, Panthers team writer Bill Voth tweets. That would take them out of the hunt for a proven veteran backup to Cam Newton, who dealt with injuries throughout the 2018 season.
  • Sticking with the Panthers, tight end Greg Olsen has met with ESPN about opportunities but that does not include the Monday Night Football post that was vacated yesterday when Jason Witten returned to the Cowboys, The Athletic’s Joseph Person writes. Those talks could eventually come, but the Panthers fully expect the veteran tight end to return to the field in 2019.
  • The Falcons view Ty Sambrailo as the team’s starting right tackle over Ryan Schraeder, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter writes. Sambrailo moved past Schraeder on the depth chart last season and started the final game at right guard. He will stay at right tackle because it’s easier to find guards and Sambrailo’s ability to pass protect, head coach Dan Quinn said.
  • The Saints have hired Declan Doyle to be an offensive assistant coach, Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune writes. Doyle previously worked as an offensive student assistant at the University of Iowa.

NFC Notes: Johnson, Redskins, Falcons, Cardinals

One of the best stories of the 2018 NFL season was Josh Johnson. The longtime journeyman quarterback finally got a chance to start his first game since the 2011 season, and immediately sparked the slumping Redskins. The injuries Washington had suffered ultimately proved too severe to overcome, but Johnson still looked pretty good for someone seeing his first live action in seven years who was signed cold off the street. Now, it looks like Johnson could be back with Washington next year.

The team is working on bringing Johnson back, Redskins team president Bruce Allen told JP Finlay of NBC Sports (Twitter link). Word came out recently that the Redskins were expecting Alex Smith to miss the entire 2019 season, so it’s not surprising they’d want to have as many bodies at quarterback as possible. With only Colt McCoy on the roster, it’s not inconceivable that Johnson could have a chance to be Washington’s starter next year.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff again reiterated the team’s desire to lockup defensive tackle Grady Jarrett with a longterm deal this week at the Super Bowl, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’ve had a number of conversations. We still have a ways to go but we are confident he’s going to be here for years to come”, Dimitroff said. Jarrett is set to be a free agent this March, but it looks like he won’t ever hit the open market.
  • Speaking of the Falcons, don’t expect them to be big spenders in free agency. Dimitroff said he doesn’t anticipate being that aggressive in pursuing guys from other teams, declaring “I don’t think necessarily we need to make a whole bunch of bold moves.” While he acknowledged that the team has some “regrouping to do” after their disappointing season, he expressed confidence in the group of players currently in the building, and said he doesn’t foresee himself “dropping a ton of money in free agency.”
  • New Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury isn’t just retaining one member of last year’s coaching staff, he’s promoting him. Kingsbury will promote Chris Achuff, who was an assistant defensive line coach on Steve Wilks’ staff last year, to be his defensive line coach, a source told Bob McManaman of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Achuff had been with Baylor for nine years before joining the Cardinals, so perhaps he had some familiarity with Kingsbury from their Big 12 days.

Falcons’ Owner On Quinn, Dimitroff

The Falcons have head coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff under contract through 2022. Their deals would indicate that their fates are tied together, but he says they are not necessarily linked if the 2019 season goes poorly. 

[RELATED: Former Falcons Coach Mike Smith Retires]

I don’t know that. That’s a whole year away,” Blank said (via Jeff Schultz of The Athletic). “They’re two different people with two different roles. I understand the question, and I understand the answer you would like. But the answer I’m giving is the honest answer, which is that we have a year for things to play out.”

Blank went on to say that he has a “very high confidence level” in their ability to turn things around, but it sounds like any outcome is possible if the Falcons fail to make the playoffs yet again. Atlanta finished out 7-9 in 2018 despite a talented roster and high expectations heading into the season.

Of course, the duo has found success together. The Falcons reached, and nearly won, Super Bowl LI against the Patriots following the 2016 season. In 2017, they secured a Wild Card spot with a 10-6 record before falling to the Eagles in the divisional round.

They’re tied at the hip in a positive way in terms of their decision-making,” he said. “I’ve seen them disagree on things in a respectful way. They definitely have different views on some things, but we encourage that as part of our culture in all of our businesses. Usually, if they disagree on something, they move on and try to find an option they both feel better about.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Sign Dimitroff, Quinn To Extensions

The Falcons signed general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn to three-year contracts extensions, the team announced on Wednesday. Both men are now signed through the 2022 season. 

[RELATED: Julio Jones Won’t Report To Camp]

The partnership between Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff has proven to be as successful as we envisioned back in 2015,” said Falcons owner and chairman Arthur Blank. “I believe continuity in leadership is vital to achieving the highest levels of success in any organization and, with these extensions, we ensure these two leaders will be at the helm of our franchise for years to come. Their shared vision and long view plan has already delivered on a variety of levels and has positioned our team for success into the future. My expectations for our team to represent our city and fans well on and off the field remain very high and so does my confidence in Dan and Thomas to make that happen.”

Things have gone well in Atlanta, for the most part, since Dimitroff joined the team in 2008. The Falcons enjoyed five consecutive winning seasons and three consecutive playoff appearances from 2008-12. Clearly, Dimitroff’s emphasis on building through the draft has paid off. As the Falcons noted in their press release, the Falcons had 17 starters in last year’s playoffs – nine on defense and eight on offense – who were either drafted or signed by the team as college free agents.

Quinn, meanwhile, joined the Falcons in 2015. He has a 29-19 record in his three seasons at the helm, including two postseason appearances and a Super Bowl appearance.

Last year, the Falcons enjoyed a playoff win over the Rams, but fell to the Eagles in the divisional round. As they look to improve upon that, they’ll forge ahead with their current GM/Coach duo.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.