Falcons name Saints' Terry Fontenot as general manager

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This photo provided by the New Orleans Saints shows Terry Fonetenot in an undated photo. The Atlanta Falcons named Terry Fontenot the teams general manager, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. The 40-year-old Fontenot becomes Atlantas first Black general manager after spending 18 seasons with division rival New Orleans. (Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints via AP)

ATLANTA – The Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday named Terry Fontenot the team's first Black general manager, and team owner Arthur Blank said it's the kind of hire that will eventually also create more opportunities for NFL minority coaches.

The 40-year-old Fontenot joins Atlanta following 18 seasons with NFC South rival New Orleans.

Fontenot helped build a consistent winner as the Saints’ vice president and assistant general manager in charge of pro personnel. The Falcons fired general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn following a 0-5 start this season, which led to a 4-12 finish, Atlanta's third consecutive losing season.

The Falcons signed Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith as their head coach on Saturday, a day after agreeing to terms.

Fontenot joins Detroit's Brad Holmes as newly hired Blank GMs in the league. Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he anticipates the league will hire more minority head coaches and GMs in the future, if not this year.

“In my opinion, I think the diversity of the pool of candidates for both the general managers and the head coaches this year was excellent and I also think for coordinators,” Blank said Tuesday.

“I think what you’ll see there were a number of coordinators that were diverse candidates that I think will probably not get opportunities this year but will definitely be getting opportunities in the future."

Smith is one of five new head coaches hired. Of the five, only the New York Jets' Robert Saleh, the first Muslim American coach in NFL history, is a minority coach.