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Terry Fontenot and Joe Brady combo emerging as a strong possibility for Falcons GM/HC jobs

Multiple reporters are indicating a long-rumored combination could be the new Falcons GM and HC.

Carolina Panthers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

We’ve all spent months trying to figure out who the Atlanta Falcons might hire to fill both their general manager and head coaching vacancies. The team has built a list of about a half-dozen candidates for each role that they’ve interviewed or will be interviewing, but there’s a sense that they’re winnowing down those lists, with a report this weekend indicating they were down to 2-3 finalists for the general manager role.

As we get closer, there seems to be a growing sense that Terry Fontenot from the Saints will be that general manager hire, and that he’ll bring young Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady to Atlanta with him as the new head coach. From veteran CBS Sports reporter Jonathan Jones, who also reported on the perception that Rich McKay could be a roadblock for a GM hire, comes this report that such a pairing is “very possible.”

Jeff Schultz at The Athletic said the possibility is something he’s sensed is “gaining steam” but was not final yet.

That report was echoed by local reporter Zach Klein, who pushed this a bit more strongly and said he would “be very surprised” if Fontenot and Brady didn’t land in Atlanta.

As always, we’d caution not to start making t-shirts until this is final, but this has been a rumor that wouldn’t die for a while now and appears to be getting reinforcement. I would be happy with Fontenot, a seasoned personnel man in one of the most effective front offices in football, and think he’ll be a strong addition to Atlanta. The staff perception of Joe Brady is more mixed—I’m wary of his lack of experience and track record to this point, while others on The Falcoholic staff really love his potential—but it’s obvious that if Fontenot is planning to bring him in, he’s zeroed in on him for a reason. At some point, if you trust the guy you’re bringing in as the next general manager, you’ve got to trust him to identify the right coach.

Fontenot has been a part of the Saints front office for a long time now, working his way up from a marketing role to a key piece of Mickey Loomis’s operation. With Fontenot taking on a pro personnel role, the Saints have made several smart free agent acquisitions in recent years that have helped them become (barf) a juggernaut in the NFC South. He’s reportedly extremely well-liked and well-respected for his ability to connect with people and identify talent, and while I know many fans don’t want anyone from the Saints associated with the Falcons, the reality is he’s one of the most qualified and coveted candidates in this hiring cycle. He could also potentially plunder the Saints front office to fill out the staff in Atlanta, where former GM Ruston Webster still has a role.

Brady was the passing game coordinator for the vaunted LSU attack in 2019, which propelled him all the way to the Panthers offensive coordinator job this offseason. He cut his teeth in the NFL as an offensive assistant for Sean Payton for two years before that, and despite a banged up and hole-filled offense in Carolina, managed to do some positive things with both the ground game and the passing attack. The question is whether he can translate that limited experience to improving the Falcons offense and running an entire team, which is part of what would make hiring him such a gamble. Ideally, the Falcons would ask him to build a veteran staff around him to help him as a first time head coach.

We’ll see if this pans out and Fontenot and Brady wind up as the next general manager and head coach of the Falcons, but chances are good we’ll know in the next week or so with these rumors heating up and the team rolling through almost all the candidates they’ve been tied to.