The Atlanta Falcons need to make some big additions this offseason to get back into the NFC playoff mix, and they’re starting at the top.
The Falcons hired Scott Pioli as the team’s assistant general manager, the team announced on Wednesday. Pioli and Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff go back a long way, as the two spent six seasons working together in the New England Patriots’ front office from 2002 to 2007.
“Scott is one of the most respected and adept talent evaluators in the NFL and a member of three Super Bowl championship teams,” Dimitroff said in a statement released by the team. “We have worked together well in the past and been friends for more than 20 years. We have had the opportunity to experience a lot of success together, and I am very pleased that he has agreed to join our personnel team so we can work together again.”
Pioli, 48, spent last season out of NFL front offices after being fired as general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2012 season. He spent four seasons as GM of the Chiefs, building a solid foundation for the team that went 11-5 during the 2013 season. The core of players he drafted or retained at reasonable market values included running back Jamaal Charles, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, linebackers Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson as well as defensive tackle Dontari Poe and safety Eric Berry.
The Falcons already have firm core of players in place, with quarterback Matt Ryan, receiver Julio Jones, cornerback Desmond Trufant and safety William Moore, among others. However, after narrowly missing out on a trip to the Super Bowl in 2012, the Falcons finished just 4-12 in 2013 and will have plenty of holes to fill both through the draft, where they select sixth overall, and free agency to get them back in contention.
Pioli should be able to assist in a few of those areas, as he’s considered both a great talent evaluator as well as a salary cap guru. The Falcons have a little more than $10 million in cap space available heading into the 2014 league year.