Prospects to replace ex-Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff are starting to emerge.
Terry Fontenot, the Saints vice president/assistant general manager-pro personnel; Rick Smith, a former Houston Texans general manager; and Brad Holmes, Rams director of college scouting, will be interviewed by the Falcons, according to a person within the NFL familiar with the situation.
Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn were fired Oct. 11 after the team started 0-5. They were viewed as co-team builders. Dimitroff was with the Falcons from 2008-20, in the winningest era of the franchise’s history and help them reach two NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl.
That the Falcons are interested in Smith and Holmes previously was reported by ESPN.
Fontenot, who has helped general manager Mickey Loomis build the Saints into a Super Bowl contender, is the new one to the group. He 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, are closing in on their fourth consecutive NFC South title. They also are competing for the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the 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.
Holmes works for former Falcons executive Les Snead, who’s the Rams’ general manager. He has been with the Rams for the past 18 seasons, starting in public relations and moving to scouting.
He worked his way up from low-level scouting positions to become the director scouting in 2012. Holmes, who played at North Carolina A&T, resides in Atlanta in part because of its proximity to the top college talent in the SEC and ACC.
Dimitroff was New England’s director of scouting before the Falcons hired him in 2008.
Rick Smith played at Purdue before getting into coaching. He started in scouting in pro personnel with Denver in 2000. He was Houston’s general manager from 2006-17. When he was named GM on June 5, 2006, he was the youngest general manager in the NFL, at 36.
Smith helped put together the Broncos’ Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII teams. The Broncos defeated the Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII.
The Falcons still are in the preparation-and-research mode for the head coaching position. They will have to wait until the end of the season to get permission to talk to some of the top candidates, such as Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Tennessee offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and Buffalo offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
Falcons’ next four games
Raiders at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29
Saints at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6
Falcons at Chargers at 4:25 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13
Buccaneers at Falcons at 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20
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