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Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Strange days in Flowery Branch: Dimitroff loses power but keeps job


They ARE playing  musical chairs in Flowery Branch. (David Goldman/AP photo)

We have our answer. Thomas Dimitroff gets to keep his job -- just not quite the same job he was doing. The Atlanta Falcons announced tonight that they've "restructured" their player personnel department , the upshot being that the general manager is no longer the point man for pro or college scouting or the draft. Which makes you wonder: So why is he still the general manager?

From the Falcons' release: Assistant GM Scott Pioli "will take on pro and college scouting and NFL Draft responsibilities." That seemed to indicate that Dimitroff was out of the loop, but I've since been told by a Falcons spokesperson that Dimitroff will retain "final say" over the draft and personnel. I'm not sure I understand that, but there it is.

I'm not saying this a bad move -- I  felt Dimitroff should have been fired along with coach Mike Smith -- but I can't say I'm overwhelmed by the news that scouting and the draft (if the not final decisions) will now be the province of Pioli, whose GM-ship in Kansas City wasn't terribly productive. And if Pioli's doing the scouting and drafting, why do the Falcons still need Dimitroff?

According to the release, Pioli will report to Dimitroff, who "will retain management responsibility for salary cap, player affairs, equipment, sports medicine and performance, and video activities." So let's review:

The Falcons will have a former GM who's now team president in charge of stadium building in Rich McKay. They'll have an incumbent GM who's no longer doing what a GM customarily does in Dimitroff, and they'll have Pioli heading the scouting. That seems like an awful lot of layering for one team, but hey, it's not my team. It's Arthur Blank's, and his moves get more puzzling by the day.

(One more update: The Falcons say they're modeling their new front office after Baltimore's, which has the highly respected Ozzie Newsome as GM and Eric DeCosta as assistant, with the two working hand-in-glove.)


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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.