Earlier this week, Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff appeared on the “Move the Sticks” podcast with hosts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks. TD was asked for his insight on team building in the modern age of the NFL. He gave some interesting answers, which I’ve included below for your convenience.
Daniel Jeremiah asked Dimitroff what the challenge is of building a roster in a salary cap league, where you’re trying to balance having star players but also depth on your roster?
That’s a great, great question,” Dimitroff said. “You know we talk about it again and again and we realize that you’re going to pay.. we’re paying two players obviously with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones who are making well over a quarter of our cap and you’re trying to be creative with how you put the team together. And we spend a lot of time on that. We understand, and understood last year when we had a number of injuries, when we were looking to dig into our depth it can get complicated. So, you know, luckily, we have an owner who is very open and generous allowing us to spend up to the cap as much as possible. I’m not in a situation as a general manager where I have to have forty, fifty or sixty-million-dollar cap space, that’s an important thing to me. I know we have to be particular and creative with it, but we also have to make sure that we are being smart about it. So, it’s a really, really complicated situation in my mind. Luckily, when we put together the right players, players who have the right makeup, who have longevity, we think we can continue to build that way and be smart about it when it’s time to move on from players, that we have the people waiting in the wings to step up.
Bucky Brooks asked Dimitroff, when paying a quarterback through each phase of their career, what has to change in each phase?
“Well, again, I’ve had people tell me that idea of why don’t you just have the young quarterback and then when it’s time, then let that quarterback go – that’s obviously ridiculous. In the end, we’re going to go where the quarterback goes. They can be different make ups, different styles, different athleticism, different arm strength and mind, but you have to have the person who’s going to lead the football team. Not only does your offense follow your quarterback, but your defense does as well. When we go back to thinking about our deal with Matt Ryan at $30 million, and people complaining before that happened.. I remember saying to him in our side discussions with him, as well as with his agent, as well as with Dan Quinn and Arthur Blank our owner, I said look, in the end we can sit there and fight this and try and pay Matt $29.25 million – that’s not going to happen, within two, three or four months he’s no longer going to be the top paid quarterback. So, we are really, really big in this organization thanks to Arthur Blank, this is about market value and we won’t battle that.”
What was your thought process in really attacking the offensive line this offseason? Daniel Jeremiah asked.
“You know, we were thinking last year, as we came into the season we thought we had one of the top-10 ranked offensive lines. We were excited about it, unfortunately we had injuries to our starters right off the bat. That put us in a situation where we were digging into our depth, and unfortunately, we had some struggles there. I remember telling Arthur and Dan Quinn this year when we all talked about it, and said look, we will hopefully never be in a situation where we lost our starters and we were in a spot where we just didn’t have the depth that we needed. So, mentioned to Arthur this year, I said look, we are going to acquire at least two [offensive linemen] in free agency, we thought and we are going to pay significant money. We thought we were smart with our money and acquisitions, which Jamon Brown and James Carpenter were two guys with good experience. We felt, and I also told Arthur during that whole acquisition period, I said and understand this will not dissuade us one bit from acquiring in the first three round, potentially two offensive linemen, young offensive linemen that we can build and we are going to put together the five best that we can possibly put together, you know, within our world and within our range and financial scope that we thought could present Matt with the best protection we could have.”
You can listen to the full episode of “Move the Sticks” by clicking here.