Dan Quinn has final say on roster

ByVaughn McClure ESPN logo
Wednesday, February 4, 2015

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- New head coach Dan Quinn will have the final say over the Atlanta Falcons' 53-man roster, owner Arthur Blank said Tuesday.

Quinn, the former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator, agreed to a five-year deal to coach the Falcons on Monday.

Blank said building the roster will be a collaboration between Quinn, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and assistant general manager Scott Pioli.

The Falcons announced a change in the front-office structure in January that designated that Quinn and Dimitroff would report to Blank separately. Pioli assumed responsibility for free agency and the draft while reporting to Dimitroff in the process.

The restructuring marked a shift of power away from Dimitroff, although the Falcons refuse to refer to it as such. When the organization parted ways with former coach Mike Smith, some wondered whether Dimitroff would be next. But Dimitroff will remain in the fold.

"To be specific, Thomas, as a general manager, will have final authority over free agents and draft picks, Scott [Pioli] now has responsibility for running free agency and the draft,'' Blank said. "Dan will have final authority over the 53- and 46-man rosters and practice squad.''

Blank went on to say the structure isn't unusual in the NFL. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll have final say over their rosters, as does Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay, just to name a few.

"Ten of the clubs work this way, including eight that have hired new head coaches since 2010,'' Blank said. "So it is a current trend. More importantly, this is about maximizing the capabilities of Thomas and Scott while adding Dan's unique [perspective].''

Dimitroff shrugged off any loss of power.

"One of the most important things to me is to come together in a partnership and come together as a team,'' he said. "This is not about individuals. This is about working together, side by side. I said it back in 2008, the day I came into this organization, and I believe it today: This is not about who has authority over anything in particular. This is about working together.

"And I'm strongly encouraged by our approach in this and I'm so excited about kicked things off with Dan. He's a heck of a partner. He's a loyal guy. He's a guy that understands football and playing fiery, passionate and free. And that's the important thing. It's not about who has the final 53 or who has authority over one thing or another. It's about working together. It's about a nice, equal footing and a partnership together. And I believe we will have that for many years to come.''

Quinn downplayed the significance of having control over the rosters.

"I think, really, Thomas and I are going to collaborate,'' Quinn said. "For he and I to be this close and connected, that was an important part for me. You know when you meet somebody right off the bat, you know you can connect? It's like, I don't know if you met your roommate in college or whatever where it was like, 'OK, this is my kind of guy.' So for he and I to connect in that way to talk about players, I can't wait to get started with him and go through the whole process together.''

Quinn confirmed Tuesday that Kyle Shanahan will be his offensive coordinator and Richard Smith will be his defensive coordinator. Keith Armstrong, who was the special-teams coordinator under former coach Mike Smith, will remain in the position under Quinn.

Raheem Morris, meanwhile, joins Quinn's staff as assistant head coach/defensive passing game coordinator. Other coaches named Tuesday include Bobby Turner (running backs) and Mike LaFleur (offensive assistant).

In addition to Armstrong, coaches Bryan Cox (defensive line), Wade Harman (tight ends), Terry Robiskie (wide receivers) and Eric Sutulovich (assistant special teams) will remain on the Falcons' staff under Quinn.

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