Ranking the active front-office personnel of the NFL, Pro Football Network had no interest in grading second-year general manager Terry Fontenot on any sort of a curve.
The Atlanta Falcons’ top decision-maker ranked 25th on PFN’s list. Though GM Fontenot and the Falcons avoid the list’s NFC South cellar (that dishonor instead belonging to Carolina’s Scott Fitterer), they’re third-lowest amongst returning front-office staffs. The damned divisional duo sandwiches Trent Baalke and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
While the caption explaining the Falcons’ ranking admits that Fontenot was left with a long to-do list upon Thomas Dimitroff’s departure, he is nonetheless rebuked by PFN for failing to replicate the Buffalo Bills’ recent success.
Those Western New York endeavors were what Fontenot sought to emulate upon taking the Atlanta job last season, but it’s noted that Bills took on a good amount of dead cap space prior to their AFC East takeover … something that Fontenot and the Falcons failed to do last season. As a result of Fontenot’s inability to make key cuts last season, Atlanta is left footing the bill this time around, as over $63 million of current cap space is dedicated to jettisoned contracts.
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The decision to trade long-tenured franchise quarterback Matt Ryan to Indianapolis headlines Fontenot’s current struggles, which also include the lingering presence of Deion Jones. Entering his seventh season, Jones would account for over $18 million in dead cap and just over $1 million in immediate savings. He struggled last season in the first season under a new coaching staff, though he’s apparently sticking around as one of the few reminders of the team’s most recent glory days. Jones has missed all of Atlanta’s offseason preparation while recovering from shoulder surgery.
Time will tell how long Fontenot has to get back on the right track. Atlanta will likely struggle to contend in an NFC South that belongs to Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers until further notice. The wild card picture is equally crowded and Ryan’s departure has left them in a dangerous predicament in the franchise quarterback’s role.
Marcus Mariota is projected as the current man with third-round rookie Desmond Ridder hot on his tail. … and if one of those QBs can rise? Maybe Fontenot’s ranking will as well.