Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Blank vague but Quinn could have final say in Falcons' roster


PHOENIX -- In the last three-plus weeks, the Falcons have been unavailable to clarify who will make final personnel decisions in the draft and free agency, or who will have final say over the 53-man roster, following a franchise restructuring that was announced Jan. 7.

I would like to tell you that a 30-minute conversation Darryl Ledbetter and I had with owner Arthur Blank clarified everything Friday, but that just wouldn't be the case.

Here's a free link to the full column on MyAJC.com.

Here's a link to the transcript of the Q-and-A, straight off of Ledbetter's busy fingertips.

As you'll read, Blank would say only that "the process" will lead to player selection in the draft and free agency. He would not say who ultimately will have final say. He denied that general manager Thomas Dimitroff has lost any autonomy. Dimitroff remains over assistant Scott Pioli, but Pioli has been put in charge of the draft and free agency.

There are growing indications that Dan Quinn, who will be named coach Monday after leading Seattle's defense in the Super Bowl Sunday, will be given final say over the 53-man roster. Here's an excerpt from the column:

Blank referenced Super Bowl teams New England and Seattle as process-driven organizations. But in fact, it’s clear that coaches Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll have final say.

“They would both tell you they have final say but only in the context of a process,” Blank said.

And the final say in your organization is?

“We’ll be clear on that when a coach signs.”

He would not say whether Quinn will have final say over the 53-man roster but he acknowledged “10 to 12” NFL coaches have that, and, “The trend is for coaches to ask for that.”

The new franchise structure also suggests Quinn will have that autonomy because, unlike former Falcons coach Mike Smith, Quinn will report directly to Blank, not to Dimitroff.

There's more in the column and there will be more next week. But all of these questions should have been answered when the team initially announced a restructuring on Jan. 7. It has been a major PR fumble by the organization.


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Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.