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Falcons Announce Extensions for McKay, Dimitroff, and Smith

January 27th, 2014 1 comment

The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have reached contract extensions with the three principal figures within the organization: team president Rich McKay, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith. McKay’s deal adds four years to his contract, while both Dimitroff and Smith add another year to their deals. McKay’s deal now runs through 2019 while the latter two are signed through 2015.

McKay last received an extension at the end of the 2009 season. He joined the Falcons in 2003 as the team’s general manager but was relieved of those duties following the team’s disastrous 2007 season. He was then replaced by Dimitroff, and assumed duties solely as team president. In those duties, he has been instrumental in the team’s attempts to build a new stadium, and his extension likely is indicative that owner Arthur Blank intends him to continue those duties through the construction of the stadium. Ground has yet to be broken on the stadium, which is projected to cost in excess of $1 billion, but it is expected to open in 2017.

Dimitroff and Smith appear joined at the hip, and Blank made comments earlier this month that indicate that expectations are for the team to get back on track and have a winning season and playoff berth after a disappointing 4-12 campaign by the Falcons in 2013. Both Dimitroff and Smith received contract extensions following the 2010 season, extending their deals through 2014.

Smith’s extension is pivotal as concerns over his lame duck status have been an underwritten subject this offseason.

Takeaways from Last Week – June 24

June 24th, 2013 Comments off
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots could lose both tight ends this year

Of course the biggest story in the NFL last week was the news surrounding New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, and his potential involvement in the homicide of Odin Lloyd.

Lloyd was found dead last Monday afternoon after confirmation that he was with Hernandez the preceding evening. As of Sunday night, a warrant had been issued for Hernandez on obstruction of justice charges, stemming from reports that he destroyed his cell phone, security system, and had his home cleaned by maids. Certainly raises suspicions about Hernandez’s guilt.

But I won’t really comment on the legal side of things. I am neither a policeman nor a lawyer. We have a justice system in this country, and as far as I am concerned it says that a man is innocent until proven guilty. So I won’t speculate on whether Hernandez is guilty of anything besides probably picking a bad day to destroy items that would be very helpful in a murder investigation.

But I suspect regardless of how Hernandez’s legal situation plays out, we won’t be seeing him suit up for the Patriots in 2013. Given Roger Goodell’s penchant for slamming down the hammer regardless of whether a player is guilty of anything, makes me believe that before Patriots training camp starts at the end of July, we’ll see him receive an indefinite suspension until his legal situation is resolved. This happened with Michael Vick back in 2007 after he was indicted following federal dogfighting charges. We also saw the same with Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent following his indictment on manslaughter charges following his December car accident that resulted in the death of teammate Jerry Brown. Now in both cases, the common denominator is indictment. We’ll see what happens with Hernandez, but I suspect even if an indictment is not reached before July 25, when the Patriots open up camp, Goodell will ask him to simply stay away from the team as was the case with both Vick and Brent.

Well that’s about as far as I care to venture down the legal hole in terms of Hernandez’s situation, and now I’d like to switch gears to how it affects the football side of things. We already know that Rob Gronkowski’s recent back surgery puts his start to the 2013 season in jeopardy. It wouldn’t be that shocking if he too doesn’t play for the Patriots this year due to this injury. Gronkowski had an unrelated back ailment coming out of Arizona in 2010, and has had a number of injuries since joining the team. If Gronk does wind up playing this year, I don’t expect he’ll be at his previous level. And if he does return to form, it probably won’t be until the latter half of the season. Regardless, at best Gronk probably only gives the Patriots 50% of what he did in previous seasons.

That leaves the Patriots without the top three weapons from last year’s team going into 2013. They lost Wes Welker via free agency, replacing him with Danny Amendola. But their offensive identity was really built around the pair of tight ends in Hernandez and Gronkowski, that created such matchup problems with opposing defenses. It really is the equivalent if the Falcons lost Julio, Roddy, and Tony all the span of a five months.

It likely means that the Patriots offensive identity might have to switch more towards being a run-first team. Opposing defenses won’t be put in the quandary of trying to figure out how to match up with their passing attack if Hernandez and Gronkowski aren’t on the field. Gronk was the inline tight end, but was without question the best in the league the past two seasons. You couldn’t cover him with a safety or linebacker, as he was too fast, and he was too physical for a corner. Hernandez was a jack of all trades type of player that would be used like a wide receiver, tight end, H-back, and fullback at times. His role was reminiscent to Reggie Bush’s in New Orleans, where he wasn’t the best player on the field, but you always had to account for him. And because of the different alignments he could appear in, it made it very difficult to game plan against them.

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Takeaways before the Combine

February 18th, 2013 Comments off
Photo by Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Players like Rams WR Brandon Gibson don’t fare well at Combine

If you haven’t heard, the league is adding a new aptitude test that will supplement the Wonderlic, rather than replace it at this week’s Scouting Combine that begins Wednesday in Indianapolis. You can go here to get a bit more details, but I found it interesting that Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff may have played a key role in getting this adopted according to a report.

I’ve never taken the Wonderlic, but I have taken the samples that you can find around the internet at times. And from my perspective, the Wonderlic is your standard run of the mill IQ test. For years people have criticized the Wonderlic largely because it doesn’t reflect football-centric intelligence. From the description of this new unnamed test, it does seem like it will have a bit more applications towards football. I’m not sure it’ll ask football-specific questions, but it’ll probably not feature a lot of the rote math or language questions that presumably the Wonderlic asked. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of it in the future. It probably is not going to replace the Wonderlic since apparently the Combine is unwilling to eliminate tests.

I know few put little stock in the Wonderlic, but I do think it is noteworthy when a player scores low, particularly quarterbacks. Generally, the consensus on the minimum a quarterback should score is at least 20. In one sense because it’s a timed test, it does sort of give you a ballpark answer on how quickly a guy can process information. But a very high score doesn’t necessarily indicate that a guy is processing information quickly. Or at least, it may not be the same sort of information that applies to reading a defense. I’m no quarterback, but I imagine that is more intuitive than academic, the latter of which seems to be what the Wonderlic is measuring.

I also think that the Wonderlic stands out in terms of its usage when you find a player that scores in the single digits. It by no means is a strong indicator that someone will be a bad pro (Roddy White scored a 4). But I know if I was a GM I would generally avoid players that scored in the single digits unless I was really impressed with their ability and upside. For example, Patrick Peterson and Chris Culliver both reportedly scored 9 on their Wonderlic tests in 2011. Peterson is of a caliber that I would “roll the dice” on him, while Culliver I might be lukewarm to take. I wouldn’t consider that the right way, just a matter of personal preference that I don’t want a locker room full of dummies. So I think in that sense, the Wonderlic can still retain some value even if this new test completely overshadows it.

I think it’s also nice that there will be a new wrinkle to the Combine this year. I think the Combine has lost some of its luster due to the sheer amount of preparation that goes into it for players. Prospects spend 4 to 6 weeks leading up to it, prepping for all the drills and tests. I think it inflates some of the numbers.

And I know GMs, coaches, scouts, and draft experts constantly talk about how it doesn’t affect things, that is straight B.S. They constantly talk about how tape from the season is what really matters, the proof is in the pudding. And the simple fact is that guys’ draft stock is largely determined by their performances at All-Star games like the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game, as well as the Combine and pro days.

For example, you have a player like Texas wideout Marquise Goodwin. I saw a pair earlier games from Goodwin this year (versus Oklahoma State and West Virginia), and my assessment of him was that he was a borderline seventh round pick due to his special teams potential. He was targeted 10 times combined in those games and caught all 10 passes thrown his way for 52 yards. Factor in the 28 yards after the catch he had, you realize that those 10 targets traveled a combined 24 yards in the air. Essentially all 10 of his passes came on screens, quick outs, or comebacks, the types of routes that don’t require a ton of skill to execute. He may have only had 1 or 2 targets that required him to run a route more than 5 yards downfield in that pair of games. What I saw from him in those games was good straight-line speed that made me believe he had good upside on special teams. But his short stature (5-9/180) probably would limit how effective he would be as a vertical threat at the next level. But what also hurt him in my eyes was that he wasn’t that productive after the catch. Had he gone for 78 yards instead of 28 yards after the catch, then I’d be more willing to buy his dynamic potential. For me, Goodwin was a speedy slot type that may not be a reliable everydown option.

But Goodwin went to Mobile and killed at the Senior Bowl. And now he’s a potential Top 15 receiver prospect that is projected to go on the second day of the draft.

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McKay adds CEO to his title

September 1st, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons announced that team president Rich McKay has added the title of CEO to the nameplate on his deck.

McKay was promoted to team president following the 2007 season, after serving the previous four years as the team’s general manager. He was replaced by current Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff at that time. Since Dimitroff handles the personnel side of things for the Falcons organization, McKay’s duties have geared towards the business aspect over the past three seasons. He has been heavily involved with the team’s quest to build a new stadium, and has also been heavily involved in salary cap management and contract negotiations. McKay is the chairman of the league’s competition committee, a position he has held since 1994 although prior to this season he shared responsibilities with former Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher. This promotion isn’t expected to significant change McKay’s day-to-day duties and role with the organization.

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McKay gets extension

December 27th, 2009 Comments off
Rich McKay

Rich McKay

ESPN.com reports that sources have confirmed that Falcons president Rich McKay has received a five-year extension.

McKay served as the team’s GM and president from December 2003 to December 2007. In January 2008, Thomas Dimitroff was hired as the team’s new general manager and McKay has remained as president. That same month, the Falcons extended McKay’s deal through 2010. Presumably, his new deal will extend his stay in Atlanta through 2015.

McKay serves as co-chair of the league’s competition committee alongside Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, a role he’s served since 1998.

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McKay no longer Browns GM candidate

January 10th, 2009 Comments off

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Falcons team president Rich McKay is no longer a candidate for the Cleveland Browns open general manager position. This report confirms what Jay Glazer of FOX Sports had reported last week that McKay had rebuffed the Browns overtures, which had been disputed by the Plain Dealer indicating that McKay’s interview had only been postponed until after their playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals. The Browns hired ex-New York Jets coach Eric Mangini this past Thursday, and are currently looking for a new general manager.

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McKay gets extension

January 4th, 2008 Comments off

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Falcons have extended the contract of current president and GM Rich McKay by two years. McKay’s contract ran through at least 2008, and so with the extension he is now under contract through at least 2010. McKay’s future with the team was tenuous due to the team’s search for a replacement general manager. Owner Arthur Blank however indicated last month that McKay was asked to stay on as team president, but would be stripped of his general manager duties. It was undetermined if McKay would stay on in a lesser role, but this extension clearly indicates that he will.

McKay has been travelling with Blank during his this week for all the interviews with prospective general manager and head coaching candidates, indicating that he does still retain at least a small bit of influence in the matter.

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Parcells denies Falcons

December 19th, 2007 Comments off

Updating previous reports, Bill Parcells has reportedly denied the job offer from the Atlanta Falcons to join the club to oversee football operations. Reportedly, Parcells is re-considering a revised offer from the Miami Dolphins. Falcons owner Arthur Blank released a statement earlier today to address the Parcells issue:

“Late last night it was revealed to the media by a source outside the Falcons that we were close to reaching an agreement with Bill Parcells to lead the club’s football operations.”

Prior to the information becoming public, we had reached an agreement in principle with Parcells, and we met with him this morning to complete the contract. At that time, we were made aware by Parcells that he was considering a revised offer from the Miami Dolphins. He later informed us that he would not be signing a contract with us.”

We remain committed to looking at every option for building a championship-caliber team for our fans. I have stated we will leave no stone unturned in doing so, and this effort is one example of that. We gave it our best shot, and it didn’t work out.”

We will continue down the same overall path, proceeding with plans to hire a general manager and a head coach. We will identify and consider every strongly viable candidate for these positions, with the goal of hiring the best. Rich McKay remains President of the club and will retain general manager responsibilities until a new GM is hired.”

We will be making no further comment on the Parcells matter.”

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported on NFL Live today that he expects that Rich McKay will not return to the Falcons after the season. Reportedly, McKay will be given the opportunity to remain with the club as President, but Mortensen expects McKay to turn down that opportunity.

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Falcons close to hiring Parcells

December 19th, 2007 Comments off

AP Gary Myers of the New York Daily News reports that Bill Parcells is close to accepting an offer to oversee the football operations of the Atlanta Falcons. Per Myers, a deal could be finalized by the end of the day today. But Parcells indicated that he has no plans to be the Falcons next head coach. In his new position, Parcells is expected to hire a new general manager and head coach. Parcells will essentially be taking over the position of football operations from President and GM Rich McKay. However, Parcells indicated that McKay is welcome to stay on with the franchise to handle league business. It is unknown if McKay does plan to stay with the franchise as this move seems to basically strip of his influence over personnel decisions.

Parcells currently works as an analyst for ESPN, after four seasons recently with the Dallas Cowboys as head coach. Parcells has coached in the NFL for 19 seasons with four different teams. In previous areas, he has served both as coach and oversaw a lot of personnel decisions, but has only worked solely in the personnel department once. That came in 2000 with the New York Jets, when Al Groh was the team’s head coach. That year with the Jets, Parcells managed to stockpile four first round draft picks. One of those picks was current Falcon defensive John Abraham. He was able to acquire some of those picks in trading wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then managed by Rich McKay. Parcells was once pursued by the Buccaneers for their head coach position following the 2001 season, but denied them.

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McKay addresses incident with Vick

January 18th, 2007 Comments off

Falcons GM and president Rich McKay held a press conference today in order to officially address the recent off-field incident that Michael Vick had in a Miami airport.

McKay stressed the disappointment the organization has in the circumstances surrounding the incident, as well as Vick’s own disappointment to the organization and notably the fans.

McKay indicated that the Falcons will deal with Vick internally, but added they are not looking to punish him separately from anything that the league hands down. The team is also prepared to let the legal side of the matter play itself out.

Vick has had little history of “off-field” incidents throughout his career as a Falcon. The biggest black eye prior to the events in Miami, was when he made an obscene gesture to fans following a home loss to the New Orleans Saints. Vick was fined $10,000 by he league, and also instructed to donate an addition $10,000 to charity.

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