The Falcons parted ways with longtime cap guru Nick Polk this offseason and reportedly weren’t able to pry away a top cap executive from the Saints, leaving us wondering who they would hire to fill that vacancy. It appears their choice with be an executive who has nearly three decades of experience working in the league offices and in a similar football administration role for Houston.
Atlanta announced the hiring of 13-year Texans executive Chris Olsen Friday night, bringing a new executive in who, among other duties, will be focused on working with general manager Terry Fontenot to manage the salary cap and likely contract negotiations.
Fontenot praised Olsen for his knowledge and what he’s accomplished to this point:
“Chris is widely respected across the entire league for his knowledge of the game and the business, and the work he has accomplished to this point in his career,” said Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot. “On top of that, he is a great human being and teammate and we are excited for him to join the Falcons organization. We look forward to what we can accomplish and build together.”
Olsen spent 2007-2019 as a senior vice president of football administration handling the cap, and our sister site Battle Red Blog wrote that he did a fine job but appeared to lose a power struggle with Bill O’Brien and possibly Jack Easterby, leading to his firing in January 2020. Before that, the Falcons note he worked out of the NFL league offices from 1994-2006 in labor relations and other roles, chief among them reviewing contracts for compliance with the league Collective Bargaining Agreement and as a point of contact for the NFLPA regarding contracts. This is a long-winded way of saying he has extensive experience in roles that have seen him scrutinizing player contracts and managing the salary cap, and that experience appears to make him a strong choice for this role in Atlanta.
He steps into the role at a time when Atlanta’s going to need to restructure deals, make cuts, and negotiate team-friendly contracts where possible to ensure they have enough flexibility in 2021 and going forward to build a contender again. The hire of an executive with this much experience presumably frees up Fontenot to focus more on the personnel work ahead, which is also going to require quite a bit of effort.
Welcome Olsen aboard, and we’ll hope he’s able to help clear up the minor cap-related mess the Falcons are currently in.