The Atlanta Falcons announced yesterday that assistant general manager Scott Pioli along with other members of the team’s front office would be receiving new responsibilities. Pioli was added to the Falcons staff a year ago in an undefined role, now has new definition. He will help oversee the team’s pro and college scouting departments, while still reporting directly to current general manager Thomas Dimitroff. That role was previously held by director of player personnel Lionel Vital, who now will assume more scouting responsibilities and work under Pioli. Dimitroff will still have “final say” over the roster, free agency and the draft according to various reports and maintain responsibility over salary-cap issues.
Prior to joining the Falcons, Pioli spent a year working in television after four seasons (2009-12) as the GM of the Kansas City Chiefs. In Kansas City, Pioli is credited with drafting Pro Bowlers like safety Eric Berry, defensive tackle Dontari Poe, and linebacker Justin Houston which helped him earn NFL Executive of the Year honors in 2010. But he was also criticized for other poor picks like first rounders defensive end Tyson Jackson and wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, as well as the trade that brought quarterback Matt Cassel to the team, and coaching hires like Todd Haley and Romeo Crennel.
Prior to getting the top gig in Kansas City, Dimitroff and Pioli worked together in New England. Pioli helped run the team alongside head coach Bill Belichick, and earned NFL Executive of the Year honors three times in 2003, 2004 and 2007. Sports Illustrated named him the top sports Executive of the Decade for the 2000s. Prior to New England, Pioli served as pro personnel direction for the New York Jets under his father-in-law Bill Parcells from 1997-99. Pioli’s first foray into scouting came as a pro personnel assistant in 1992 with the Cleveland Browns, who were then coached by Belichick.
Others have speculated that the timing of this front-office restructuring indicates that Dimitroff will remain the team’s general manager after reports that he could lose his job upon the hiring of a new Falcons head coach.