Over more than a decade in Atlanta, Thomas Dimitroff proved to be a polarizing figure in Atlanta. Under his management of the front office, both as the sole power wielder and in a restructured team that included Scott Pioli and a who’s who of former general managers, he built a team that was more successful on balance from 2008-2020 than any other stretch in team history. Over that span, he drafted Matt Ryan, Grady Jarrett, Jake Matthews, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Desmond Trufant, Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, and other difference makers for teams that made the playoffs six times and the Super Bowl once in 13 years, but he also struggled to build both the offensive and defensive lines and presided over a number of woefully bad free agent acquisitions.
On balance, we’ve argued, Dimitroff achieved quite a lot in Atlanta. The Falcons were a rudderless, broken team with some talent when he arrived in 2008, following on the heels of Rich McKay being shunted out of the GM role and Bobby Petrino fleeing in the middle of the night. He was able to quickly build a contender and largely keep Atlanta competitive outside of the 2013-2014 stretch and the last three seasons, when the team has absolutely cratered. That resume has significant flaws and Falcons fans have never been shy about pointing them out—and the Falcons, finally, fired him for them—but it’s also the sort of experience and success that draws notice from other teams.
That’s why I fully expected Dimitroff to get interviews for personnel jobs this offseason, and he’s getting started early with an interview with the Detroit Lions.
The #Lions plan to interview former #Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff next week for their GM job, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 17, 2020
Dimitroff, 54, is a two-time NFL Executive of the Year. He built the ATL team that reached the Super Bowl four years ago and was part of two championships in New England.
Dimitroff will be up against candidates including former Texans GM Rick Smith, himself a potential candidate for the vacant Falcons GM job. If he gets the job, he’ll inherit a roster with talent but in need of at least tweaking nearly everywhere you look, from the wide receiver corps to the secondary to both lines. If he can build a consistent winner in Detroit, he’ll be the first GM to do so in, well, a very long time.
We’ll wish him well if he lands with the Lions, especially since it’s not easy for anybody to carve out real success in Detroit. Hopefully we’ll get news that the Falcons are interviewing GM candidates soon enough.