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Falcons promote Kyle Smith, Ryan Pace

The longtime personnel executives have new titles and likely new responsibilities.

Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Falcons made Kyle Smith and Ryan Pace prominent pieces of their front office out of the gate, with Smith focusing heavily on the draft and Pace with a less defined role, one that saw the Falcons set up a pipeline of former Bears players. Both were clearly executives Terry Fontenot liked and trusted to get the job done, and after three offseasons in Atlanta for Smith and two for Pace, they’ve both overseen a radical re-imaginging of this Falcons roster.

With this team finally poised to contend after five years of wandering the desert, both are also getting promotions, per Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports. Smith is becoming the assistant general manager, while Pace will become the director of player personnel.

Smith, the son of longtime NFL general manager A.J. Smith, cut his teeth as a practice squad player with stints in NFL Europe and the CFL before joining Washington as a scout in 2011. He worked his way up to director of college personnel in 2017 and earned one more promotion to vice president of player personnel before he and the team parted ways in 2021, when the Falcons quickly snapped him up. In Washington, he a prominent piece of the front office that drafted Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, Terry McLaurin, and a host of solid role players, and in Atlanta, he has provided draft expertise for a front office led by a pro personnel pro in Fontenot. The promotion to assistant GM is a reflection of the team’s esteem for him, and hopefully will help keep him in Atlanta longer with other teams likely prowling and looking at Smith as a possible future general manager candidate.

Pace overlapped with Fontenot in the New Orleans front office before taking over as Chicago’s general manager, overseeing a mixed run that saw the Bears largely struggle. He drafted studs like Eddie Goldman, Eddie Jackson, and James Daniels, but also traded up to take Mitch Trubisky and drafted Kevin White. Still, Fontenot clearly respected his eye for talent and brought him aboard in 2022, and his connection to players like Goldman, Elijah Wilkinson, Damien Williams, and Damiere Byrd likely helped lure them to Atlanta. He’ll continue to be a very prominent part of the front office in this new role, unsurprisingly, and we’ll get to make our jokes about former Bears as he continues to presumably play a significant role in bringing them to Atlanta.

Congratulations to both executives, and may the fruitful offseason they just helped put together lead the Falcons to the playoffs in 2023.