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Falcons cut ties with longtime executives

Marty Lauzon and Kevin Winston are out as Terry Fontenot continues to overhaul the organization.

Cleveland Browns vs Oakland Raiders - October 1, 2006 Photo by Kirby Lee/NFLPhotoLibrary

Kevin Winston has been in Atlanta since Rich McKay was general manager of the Atlanta Falcons, and Marty Lauzon wasn’t all that far behind him. Winston was the vice president of player affairs, a role that saw him oversee player development through programs like the Falcons University Rookie Success Program. Lauzon, meanwhile, had been the director of sports medicine and performance in Atlanta for 11 years, and the organization cutting ties with both suggests Terry Fontenot is serious about remaking the organization from top to bottom.

The news was first reported by Jeff Schultz at The Athletic, alongside the news that 23-year employee Mike Crews was also on the outs.

Winston seems to be the big surprise here. He and the team won an Outstanding Career Development Program award in 2008, and every indication is that he was well-liked and respected by players, as he was instrumental in helping them prepare for their careers and life after football. He confirmed the report from Schultz in a text to the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter:

“Yes, this AMAZING Blessing with the Falcons has come to the end,” Winston wrote in a text to the AJC. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity, friendship, and the ability to raise my family in ATL! My only regret ...we [didn’t] bring home the Lombardi to a city that is so deserving.”

Lauzon had been the head trainer and the director of sports medicine and performance over his 11 years in Atlanta, a role that meant he was inevitably a lightning rod for fan criticism whenever a player got injured. Crews, meanwhile, oversaw video, analytics, and application development for the Falcons, per the AJC, a role that grew in prominence as technology across the NFL improved.

I don’t imagine any of these guys will struggle to land new roles in the future, given their experience and the fact that they can likely land recommendations from the likes of Rich McKay and Arthur Blank. We wish all of them well.

For Fontenot and the Falcons, meanwhile, this signals a truly new era in many ways. Men like Winston and Crews not only survived the transition from McKay to Thomas Dimitroff but actually saw their roles grow in prominence, as Dimitroff always seemed amenable to keeping elements of the previous power structure in place if he felt they were good fits. That includes Nick Polk, the longtime Falcons cap guru who had been in Atlanta for years before Dimitroff arrived. With a new general manager, new head coach, and a mandate for major change coming from Arthur Blank and McKay, it appears Atlanta will be undergoing a true top-to-bottom scouring for the first time in a long, long time.

It stands to reason that we’ll see major changes for the roster arriving soon, as well, even if the Falcons have been extremely quiet on that front to this point. We’ll see who Atlanta hires to fill these major holes in their front office, and we’ll see if big changes can deliver the kind of success this team could not quite achieve under the previous regime.