This article makes me sick because I have to be nice to the Saints a little bit, but Fontenot is more than qualified to be the next General Manager of the Falcons. Rumors are swirling around national media outlets that Fontenot will be paired with Joe Brady, and that’s a duo I can certainly talk myself into. A little background on Fontenot:
Fontenot has been with the AINTS for over 18 years, which has undoubtedly been their best years. He’s been heavily involved as a scout and with player personnel during his time.
While the cap situation in New Orleans for 2021 is actually a dumpster fire, Fontenot mostly handles player evaluation and scouting for pro leagues and future opponents (and he’s good at it).
It’s worth noting that Fontenot wears many hats, mostly the Director of Pro Scouting. He has a serious eye for talent, and he’s acquired players at positions that the Falcons have struggled with at times.
Looking at free agents, DeMario Davis became one of the best WILL Linebackers in the game after leaving the Jets — even at age 32. Fontenot’s recently helped snag Emmanuel Sanders and Malcolm Jenkins out of the bargain bin as well. The Saints rarely hand out bad contracts to free agents, and the Falcons had multiple bad ones this offseason.
Scouting Future Opponents
Even with Drew Brees completely toast and Taysom Hill being very limited, New Orleans finds a way to win regular-season games. They will have their hands full with Tampa Bay this weekend, but part of Fontenot’s job is evaluating the talent on the other teams. He’s done well; the Saints always seem to come in with a solid gameplan and adjust. As much as I clown New Orleans, they’ve been in a position to win playoff games (that they choked away) in each of the past three seasons. Most of that should be credited to Sean Payton, but Fontenot has been doing this for 17 years. Making adjustments and game-planning past the first half has been… problematic for Atlanta in recent years, to say the least.
17 years even as a janitor in the NFL is an impressive feat, especially for one organization. This will be Fontenot’s sixth year as the Director of Pro Scouting. He has seen the best years of New Orleans football by far, and I would hedge to say that he had a part in bringing Drew Brees on board, leading to their only Lombardi Trophy 11 years ago. Even if Joe Brady’s “readiness” is questionable, Fontenot knows this game inside and out.
Compensation Picks going to New Orleans
New Orleans will get two third-round compensatory picks for having a minority candidate hired away. I have no bones with the rule itself, and hopefully, they don’t reload with two good players using those picks. Regardless, if you truly believe Fontenot is the guy, you have to roll the dice.
Saints Current Cap Situation
In case you’ve missed our endless jokes about it on Twitter, the Saints are roughly $100 million over the cap for 2021 — and that’s if it doesn’t fall. Drew Brees retiring will alleviate some of that pressure, but they have a lot of work to do. Kwon Alexander may need to be cut already. I anticipate Mickey Loomis will make some magic work and get the situation under control, but it’s still kicking the can down the road. I wouldn’t necessarily say this situation is Fontenot’s doing, but it’s worth making a note of. Regardless, I can’t blame a guy for paying to keep his best players and going all in one last time with Drew Brees. With a team as cap-strapped as Atlanta, he has a tall task ahead of him. I listed some cut candidates to give Fontenot some breathing room, but the cap situation will be dicey in the wake of a COVID-19 impacted season.
Short leash with the fanbase
I’ll keep this brief because it’s more in theory than in practice, but if a guy comes from New Orleans and trades Julio Jones and gets a bad return or does little to nothing within the first few seasons, fans are going to be heated that he came from the Saints. Just saying.
Unknown role with College Scouting
Look, the Saints draft well. Look no further than the 2017 NFL Draft, the one that the Falcons notoriously flunked. Getting a perennial Pro Bowl right tackle in Ryan Ramczyk, superstar RB Alvin Kamara, a solid EDGE in Trey Hendrickson, CB Marshon Lattimore, and safety Marcus Williams in one draft is pretty darn impressive. Even guys in recent drafts like Erik McCoy and Cesar Ruiz have been good for New Orleans. Not to mention — Michael Thomas was picked up in the second round of the 2016 draft, one of the best left tackles in football in Terron Armstead was drafted in 2013 (third round), and Cam Jordan was taken in 2011 (24th overall). New Orleans has made picks count all over the draft board.
Okay, that made me feel gross. However, Fontenot deals with PRO talent acquisition. As a scout, I’m sure he has a hand in checking out college players. Right now, I don’t have the information to say he’s made that big of an impact in that regard.