With Saints loss, Fontenot free to join Falcons as GM

Terry Fontenot spent seven seasons as a pro scout before being promoted to New Orleans Saints vice president/assistant general manager — pro personnel. (NFL)
Terry Fontenot spent seven seasons as a pro scout before being promoted to New Orleans Saints vice president/assistant general manager — pro personnel. (NFL)

Credit: NFL

Credit: NFL

With the loss of the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Buccaneers on Sunday, Terry Fontenot is free to join the Falcons as their new general manager.

The team has not announced his hiring Fontenot, 40, as their next general manager. He set to be the first Black GM for the franchise that was founded in 1965. Fontenot was the Saints vice president/assistant general manager–pro personnel and work with the organization for the past 18 years.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported that the Falcons were set to interview Fontenot on Dec. 8. The Falcons, because of league tampering rules, will not confirm their plans at this time. However, Fontenot’s phone contact reads, “Terry Fontenot, Falcons.”

Fontenot was a finalist along with former Texans general manager Rick Smith and Rams director of scouting Brad Holmes, who agreed to terms to become the new general manager of the Lions.

The Falcons, who fired Thomas Dimitroff on Oct. 11, interviewed five GM candidates.

In addition to Smith, Fontenot and Holmes, the Falcons interviewed director of college scouting Anthony Robinson and Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown, who was called Monday and informed he was out of the running.

The Falcons, per NFL rules, couldn’t hire Fontenot until after the Saints had completed their season. Fontenot, who interviewed with the Jets last season, also had an interview with the Broncos, who hired Vikings executive George Paton.

The Lions were able to announce Holmes’ hiring because the Rams granted them permission. Holmes was the Rams’ director to college scouting and was just preparing for the Senior Bowl, so the Rams let him go ahead and get started in Detroit.

The Falcons want the new general manager and the new coach to work in a collaborative environment and possess a shared vision to land the franchise its first NFL championship. Arthur Smith was named as the new coach on Saturday.

Former Falcons tight end coach Chris Scelfo, who coached Fontenot at Tulane, is not stunned that he’s set to become a general manager.

“Well, I’m really not (surprised),” Scelfo told the AJC. “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.”

LIKELY NEW GENERAL MANAGER

Name: Terry Fontenot

Age: 40

Current role: New Orleans Saints vice president/assistant general manager–pro personnel

Background: Under Saints general manager Mickey 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.

When interviewed: Jan. 6

Why he makes sense: The Saints have been doing something right in the talent department under a tight salary-cap situation.

Why he doesn’t make sense: There is no obvious weakness in his background other than he hasn’t been a general manager before.

Falcons’ 2021 draft position

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

2. New York Jets

3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)

4. Falcons

5. Cincinnati Bengals

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