Q&A: Dimitroff ready to start retooling team immediately

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and new assistant general manager Scott Pioli are ready to make moves immediately after the NFL allows them Monday.

Dimitroff granted The Atlanta Journal-Constitution an interview and discussed how Pioli would fit into the team’s hierarchy, the plans for free agency and Roddy White’s contract extension, but he was evasive about any plans to trade up to land South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in the draft.

Here are the highlights of the extensive interview:

Q: When will you all start making moves?

A: I believe that on Feb. 3, when the rosters are no longer frozen, we'll start to make some moves.

Q: Have you all been in meetings to make those roster determinations?

A: To say that we've had meetings is an understatement. Yes, we've been very busy at so many levels.

Q: Is there any way to quantify how dramatic of a change we should expect? Last year, you all did a bunch of moves and it was like, wow! Could it approach that?

A: I don't know if we can parallel the two years because this is a very different offseason than last season. Suffice it to say, we'll be very mindful of our assessing the readiness of our players and the readiness of some of our young players to potentially move into starting roles. Yes, there will be moves. There will be adjustments.

Q: Last year, those moves weren’t announced until March 1, when the league year started. With the Feb. 3 date are you all working with a different timeline this year?

A: We'll have the discussions, and we can start to make the moves after (Monday when) the rosters are no longer frozen.

Q: Can you clear up how the (decision-making) hierarchy is going to work now with Scott Pioli being on board? How will it work between you, Pioli and Lionel Vital?

A: Lionel Vital is our personnel director. He is charge of the personnel department, both pro and college. Nothing has changed with the hiring of Scott as far as what Lionel's responsibilities are. Scott is an assistant general manager. He (has) a very important seat at the table. His insight and experiences as per building teams and putting rosters together is going to be very important as a discussion point at so many levels. Again, Scott's direct line is to me and our owner. He is not in charge of the personnel department.

Q: So he has no autonomy per se? It’s just a voice basically?

A: Yes, Scott doesn't have autonomy. We're a very collaborative football team. What he's going to be, again, is an incredibly insightful voice for us at so many levels.

Q: Did he just want to slowly ease back into it?

A: I will say without getting too specific about Scott's situation, I will say that Scott had opportunities and potential opportunities that could have been perceived as very beneficial for him.

Q: Any update on a possible contract extension for Roddy White that has been widely speculated?

A: I don't want to comment on the specifics right now of any (player) contracts, obviously. But there is no question that we'd like Roddy to be back here. … for the rest of his career.

Q: Are you in decent shape cap-wise?

A: We are in good shape cap-wise.

Q: Will it enable you to spend money in free agency? Can you quantify that?

A: Yes. We have a good situation as far as the cap space. We're good from a cap standpoint as far as entertaining certain options in free agency. That doesn't necessarily mean we are going to go big or go home. It does mean, however, that we'll be very mindful of what may be out there and what may fit into our areas of need.

Q: Since you have to make a decision in free agency before the draft, is there any way you can say where you are more likely to spend money?

A: At this point, we don't know which direction that we are going in free agency. We are really trudging forward in our discussions about it. Again, part of this had to do with how we compare that free-agency group to what may be out there in the draft.

Q: Where do you need impact players?

A: There is no mystery here. We know that we need to continue to build along our fronts. We need to continue to focus on getting more gritty and more rugged in certain areas. That's going to be important for us coming into the season. …We all know that this is a warrior game. We have to come to the line of scrimmage with that mentality.

Q: Does Jadeveon Clowney qualify as one of those players who could help you? Would you trade up for him?

A: All I will say is what everyone else knows in the country: J. Clowney … is a top-notch talent. He's going to make a team happy. He's going to be a legitimate difference-maker in this league. The people with the top two picks know that.

Q: Is there more uncertainty at the top of the draft? (Picking sixth in the first round), does it make it difficult for you to determine if you have to trade up or sit at six?

A: I believe that this top 10 of the 2014 draft is a really top-notch group of football players. It's going to be one of those drafts that you are going to get a lot of very accomplished football players from Day 1 on the football field in the NFL out of this top 10. … you're not going to be disappointed picking in the top 10.

Q: Could it help with St. Louis (second) and Jacksonville (third) being ahead of you in the draft?

A: We have already talked about the fact that we have two, (three) and six with Atlanta Falcons ties. … This league is about having the right allies when you are trying to broker trades.