Vital balks at demotion, elects to leave Falcons

The Falcons are parting ways with director of player personnel Lionel Vital, the team confirmed on Sunday.

Vital, who had just completed his third season in that role, agreed to part ways with the team on Sunday. He was offered another position, but felt it was best to move on.

“I just felt, we felt that it would just be fairer for the new guy, who is going to be doing that duty, to deal with fresh people,” Vital told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. “I don’t want to be staring at him and I don’t want him staring at me. I think it works out for both parties. The Falcons have been good to me. That’s how I want to leave it.”

The Falcons announced that they would reorganize the personnel department on Jan. 8.

“We are going to make a number of changes to our pro personnel and college scouting departments and that process began this week,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement. “It will take some time, but we will be adding talent on the pro personnel side and re-organizing both of these groups to best align with the shared vision of coach (Dan) Quinn and (general manager) Thomas Dimitroff. I expect these changes will produce positive results for our team.”

Vital is a 25-year veteran in scouting and player personnel. Vital spent the 2012 season as the associate director of player personnel after serving as the club’s assistant director of player personnel from 2007-11.

Vital had been deciding on whether to take a demotion over the past week.

“I don’t want to burn any bridges,” Vital said. “Nobody is mad. It’s just time for this organization to do some things on the personnel side. That’s where we are.”

The Falcons are expected to add some veteran personnel men and will likely shuffle around some of the younger scouts. The entire personnel department is being evaluated.

“When you don’t win, things happen like this and you have to shake it up,” Vital said.

The Falcons have had three straight non-winning seasons and have not made the playoffs since 2012.

“Whenever you lose, you’ve got to answer to the fans and you’ve got to answer to the ownership,” Vital said. “All I know is when I lost my role and I was asked to take another role, I had to decide. Sometimes you have to read in between the lines. I had to decide if I wanted to do that or just remove myself and just allow them to get a fresh body in here. Get a fresh start. I was fine with that. I thought about it and I really thought about it for about week.

“Could I stay here and deal with it? I probably could, knowing who I am and my personality. I can work with anybody, but I just thought it was best to move on.”

Vital, who’s well-respected in scouting circles, likely won’t be unemployed long.

“I’m open minded and the most important thing is to hopefully land somewhere there is a good fit for them and a good fit for myself,” Vital said. “There has to be a fit rather than just doing it to do it. That’s what I want to make sure of that. Make sure it’s right. I want to fit people and I want people to fit me so that we can all enjoy what we do.”

Vita’s responsibilities with the Falcons included evaluating the top 150 college players. He also graded the top unrestricted NFL free agents.

He has also worked with Baltimore, New England, New York Jets, Cleveland and the Montreal Machine of the World League of American Football.

A native of Loreauville, Louisiana, Vital graduated from Nicholls State and was selected by the Washington Redskins as a running back in the seventh round of the 1985 NFL draft.