New Orleans Saints vice president/assistant general manager–pro personnel Terry Fontenot interviewed for the Falcons’ vacant general manager position Wednesday, the team announced.
Fontenot, who has helped general manager Mickey Loomis build the Saints into a Super Bowl contender, is the fifth candidate to interview for the vacant position that was held by Thomas Dimitroff from January 2008 to Oct. 11. Former Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith, Falcons director of college scouting Anthony Robinson, Rams director of college scouting Brad Holmes and Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown also interviewed.
Fontenot interviewed for the New York Jets’ general manager position in 2019.
The Saints, who swept the Falcons this season and have won six of the past seven meetings between the teams, won their fourth consecutive NFC South title and are set to open in the NFC playoffs.
Under Loomis and Fontenot, the Saints were able to build a tenacious defense to go with their veteran quarterback and offensive weapons. They have mixed in acquisitions through free agency (linebacker Demario Davis), trades (linebacker Kwon Alexander) and the draft (defensive ends Cameron Jordan and Trey Hendrickson and safety Malcolm Jenkins) to build the defense.
Fontenot has been with the Saints for 16 seasons.
He spent seven seasons as a pro scout before he was promoted. While he’s mostly been in pro personnel, he also assisted in the team’s draft preparations and weekly scouting of coming opponents.
Fontenot played safety at Tulane (1999-2002) and was the team captain in 2001 and was the 2002 Hawaii Bowl team. He was coached by former Falcons tight ends coach Chris Scelfo, who was Tulane’s head coach from 1998-2006.
Fontenot graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business and organizational information technology.
In 2012 he attended Stanford Business School’s executive-education NFL-Stanford program for managers. The program is well-known in NFL circles for training future executives.
“I tell you, I’m not surprised at all that he’s moved this fast,” Scelfo told the AJC. “Age is just a number in his case.”
Scelfo was an assistant head coach at Georgia from 1996-98 before becoming the head coach at Tulane from 1998-2006. Fontenot was a four-year letterman as a safety from 1999-2002.
“He was dependable,” Scelfo said. “He wasn’t a great player, but he did everything he could to be the player that he was. He worked at it. He worked in the offseason. He worked in the classroom. He worked off the field.”
Scelfo remembers that Fontenot had unwavering core values.
“He was brought up, raised the right way,” Scelfo said. “He’s a respect-and-dignity person. He does not get rattled. He will always keep his composure. That’s the way that he played.”
Fontenot background with the Saints will be attractive to the Falcons, who’ll have salary-cap issues and must find additional talent from other rosters and leagues in addition to the draft.
Scelfo is not stunned that Fontenot is a GM candidate.
“Well, I’m really not (surprised),” Scelfo said. “No. 1 is the training that he has had in the situation at New Orleans where he started, blossomed and that’s been a tremendous organization to learn from Mickey Loomis, watch Sean Payton up close and personal. Those guys have had a lot of success. For him to be a part of that, obviously this could give him a chance to branch out and kind of mimic the pattern that has been successful.”
Interviewed; Current position
Raheem Morris; Falcons interim coach
Eric Bieniemy; Chiefs offensive coordinator
Robert Saleh; 49ers defensive coordinator
Requested; Current position
Joe Brady; Panthers offensive coordinator
Interviewed; Current position
Anthony Robinson; Falcons director of college scouting
Rick Smith; Former Texans general manager
Brad Holmes; Rams director of college scouting
Morocco Brown; Colts director of college scouting
Terry Fontenot; Saints vice president/assistant general manager – pro personnel
Falcons’ 2021 draft position
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)
5. Cincinnati Bengals
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com