Jay Glazer of FOX Sports tweeted last night that Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan interviewed David Caldwell for that team’s vacant GM job yesterday. Glazer also reported that the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets have asked permission from the Falcons to interview Caldwell as well. Those teams now join the Cleveland Browns as teams that have formally sought Caldwell to take over their GM job. Caldwell has also been linked to potential openings in Buffalo and Carolina.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that according to a source, the Cleveland Browns have already contacted Falcons Director of Player Personnel David Caldwell about the now vacant general manager position, following the dismissal of Tom Heckert. Caldwell’s name has been mentioned in connection to a number of potential front office vacancies around the league. Steve Wyche of NFL.com indicates that Caldwell’s potential popularity stems from the Falcons on-field and off-field success under GM Thomas Dimitroff. Per Wyche, down the road current Falcons Associate Director of Player Personnel Lionel Vital and Director of Football Administration Nick Polk could also be sought-after GM candidates.
Cabot also mentions that Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is a candidate to take over the head coaching spot in Cleveland, after the team dismissed Pat Shurmur today as well.
SI.com’s Don Banks and the National Football Post report separate instances where Falcons Director of College Scouting David Caldwell is a candidate for a potentially open GM position. Banks intimates that Caldwell could be a candidate in Cleveland, Buffalo, and Jacksonville. While the NFP report indicates that he will be high on the short list of candidates for the Carolina Panthers. The latter report expects that he will receive multiple interviews. Caldwell interviewed last January for the vacant GM position with the Indianapolis Colts, which ultimately went to Ryan Grigson.
Caldwell was among the first hirings by GM Thomas Dimitroff here in Atlanta in 2008. He spent ten years with the Colts as an area scout prior to joining the Falcons, and was a scouting assistant with the Panthers for two years prior to that. Part of Caldwell’s potential popularity is based on his draft-based background.
Steve Wyche of NFL.com reports that the St. Louis Rams are set to hire Falcons pro scout Ran Carthon as their pro personnel director. Carthon will re-join Les Snead, the Falcons former director of player personnel who was hired as the Rams new general manager in February.
Carthon is the son of NFL assistant coach and former player Maurice Carthon, who is currently on the Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff. Ran played briefly in the NFL having played 9 games with the Indianapolis Colts between 2005-06 after entering the league as an undrafted running back in 2004, following a career at the University of Florida. After his playing career was over, Carthon joined the Falcons scouting department in 2008 as a pro scout, where he has served since.
Pro Football Talk reported yesterday that former Indianapolis Colts Vice President and General Manager Chris Polian will be joining the Falcons front office in a currently unknown capacity. Polian was at one point a candidate for the Falcons own general manager position in 2008, but removed his name from consideration and a week later the Falcons named Thomas Dimitroff to the post instead. Afterwards, Polian was promoted to be GM of the Colts in 2009, serving in that capacity until he along with his father, Bill, the President of the Colts were fired following the Colts 2-14 record in 2011.
Polian began his work in scouting as a player personnel assistant with the now defunct Sacramento Gold Miners of the CFL in 1993. He was hired by the Carolina Panthers the following year, then managed by his father. He was a pro scout for the Panthers from 1994-96, and the became their pro personnel coordinator in 1997. When his father left to become the general manager of the Colts in 1998, Chris followed as the director of pro scouting. He was promoted to Assistant Director of Football Operations in 2001, and then as assistant GM/VP of Football Operations in 2004, a post he held until his 2009 promotion.
Rich Cimini of ESPN New York reporting on the chances of the New York Jets repeating as the team featured on HBO’s training camp series Hard Knocks indicated that league sources believe the Falcons are the favorites. In previous years, the Falcons indicated little interest but last year during the lockout Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff indicated that the team would have future interest. Dimitroff indicated that the Falcons wouldn’t desire to be featured given the lockout’s disruption of a normal NFL summer, but left the door open for the Falcons to be featured in the future on HBO.
Yesterday I went over the offense and the changes that may be ahead for the team. Those changes will continue on the defensive side of the ball. Not only does the arrival of Mike Nolan bring changes to the defensive philosophy the changes will also be noticeable in the personnel. Most of this will obviously be in the front seven and that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone at this point.
SAFETIES: The starting safeties from last season, Thomas DeCoud and William Moore, will return for the 2012 season with DeCoud’s recent re-signing. The way the contract is structured it seems that it’s more of a 2 year audition for DeCoud that could lead to a very good deal for both parties. Who will back them up is the better question. Shann Schillinger returns as one of the better special teams players on the squad. James Sanders is an unrestricted free agent and it’s unclear whether or not the team will re-sign him. The draft isn’t very deep at safety this year but it’s certainly possible the team draft one in the later rounds or simply sign Sanders or another free agent to round out the squad.
CORNERBACKS: Brent Grimes received the franchise tag but shows no indications of wanting to play under the 1 year tender. If I had to guess, the sticking point may be the length of the contract. At 29, teams often shy away from longer term contracts while Grimes most certainly wants to ensure he makes the most of his opportunity to secure his future. Hopefully the situation will not turn into a hold out situation but that is something the team will have to prepare for. Dunta Robinson, Christopher Owens and a rapidly improving Dominique Franks return along with Darrin Walls who opened eyes last preseason. Kelvin Hayden is an unrestricted free agent and my guess is that he will not be re-signed. This is one area of the team that I’m almost certain that the front office will use a draft pick to add depth, competition as well as guard against a potential hold out.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: Starters Stephen Nicholas and Sean Weatherspoon return along with reserves Spencer Adkins and Robert James. Mike Peterson is the lone free agent of the group and should be re-signed to provide quality depth to the unit. More on this position a little later on when defensive ends are covered.
MIDDLE LINEBACKERS: The most noticeable change is most likely coming at middle linebacker. With Akeem Dent drafted last year and the recent signing of Lofa Tatupu, I can’t help but think that the Falcons and free agent Curtis Lofton are parting ways. There is just entirely too much “smoke” that indicates the team has one value for Lofton while he and his agent have another and feel they can get that value on the open market. That said, I’m sure the door is still open but probably not as widely as it once was. Whether or not another middle linebacker is added remains to be seen as the team is not tipping it’s hand but I would not be surprised to see it happen.
DEFENSIVE TACKLES: Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters and Peria Jerry are all under contract. The fourth in the rotation, Vance Walker, is a restricted free agent and all indications are that he will return under the one year tender. I’m not of the opinion that this group is the final group though. A role player through free agency may be added or just as likely, a draft pick spent.
DEFENSIVE END: With Lawrence Sidbury, Ray Edwards, last year’s draft pick addition, Cliff Matthews and the newly re-signed Kroy Biermann the Falcons return a youthful group of ends. Free agent John Abraham has been reported to have priced himself far out of the team’s range and it appears that the team will make a very strong push for free agent to be Mario Williams. I’m of the opinion that a rotation of Sidbury and Biermann would yield production from the right end position but things may not be as straight forward as that. With Mike Nolan’s defense, there will be 3-4 situations that would show Williams as a pass rushing linebacker or even Biermann as a linebacker at times as well. This will be and already is the most discussed issue (along with whether or not Lofton will return) among Falcon fans. I could just as easily see a role playing type defensive end (Kendall Langford is one that has been mentioned) added if Williams is not added but again, I expect the Falcons to pull out all the stops to acquire Mario Williams.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Last year’s draft pick, Matt Bosher, started off on the shaky side but quickly worked through it and became a very consistent punter. The future looks very bright for Bosher and I look for him to establish himself much like Michael Koenen did early in his career with the team. Matt Bryant returns along with his consistency as the placekicker. Returner Eric Weems is a free agent. If he doesn’t return, a receiver like Eddie Royal may be added to not only be the returner but also fill receiver duties. Another option would be cornerback Dominique Franks as well. In the end, I expect Weems to return to the team.
In two days, when the free agency doors swing wide open, there will certainly be a frenzy of signings. The path of the future of the Falcons will be paved and the direction of the team will be clearer as question marks are erased with each signing.
In lieu of the departure of director of player personnel Les Snead to take over general manager duties with the St. Louis Rams, the Falcons have promoted David Caldwell to Snead’s former position. Caldwell has spent the past four years as the team’s director of college scouting. The team also announced that pro personnel coordinator DeJuan Polk to become director of pro scouting.
Caldwell was hired by the Falcons in May 2008, after ten seasons as an area scout for the Indianapolis Colts. Prior to joining the Colts, he spent two years as a scouting assistant with the Carolina Panthers (1996-97). He was a candidate for the Colts vacant GM position last month, which ultimately went to Ryan Grigson.
Last summer, the Falcons promoted Polk to pro personnel coordinator. Polk joined the Falcons in 2006 and worked as an area scout in 2008, and then moved back to the pro scouting department in 2009.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the St. Louis Rams have entered contract negotiations with Falcons director of player personnel Les Snead to take over their vacant general manager position. Subsequent reports have indicated that Snead has accepted the position. Snead was considered one of two finalists for the job, but the other candidate, George Paton opted to remain with the Minnesota Vikings.
Snead replaces Billy Devaney, a former Falcon executive that was hired by the Rams in 2008, but fired after this past season. Snead first joined the Falcons in 1998, and was promoted in 2009. Snead was also a candidate for the vacant GM positions in Indianapolis and Chicago this year. No word from the Falcons on who will replace Snead, who in his former position acted essentially as an assistant to GM Thomas Dimitroff in directing both the college and pro personnel departments. But it is likely that assistant director of player personnel Lionel Vital could get a promotion.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Falcons director of player personnel Les Snead was interviewed by the St. Louis Rams for a second time on Wednesday for their vacant GM position. It was previously reported that Snead would be interviewed by the Rams, which actually took place on January 10. His first interview took place before the Rams had decided on a head coach, which turned out to be former Tennessee Titans head man Jeff Fisher.
Snead first joined the Falcons personnel department in 1998 and was promoted to his current position in 2009. His current role is to aid GM Thomas Dimitroff in overseeing both pro and college scouting departments. Snead was also a candidate for the vacant GM spots in Indianapolis and Chicago. Ultimately the Bears job went to former Falcon director of college scouting Phil Emery, who was last with the team in 2009.