Falcons restructure front office

The Falcons have given Scott Pioli more responsibilities, but Thomas Dimitroff is still in charge.

The Atlanta Falcons announced changes to the front office Wednesday afternoon, something that was practically promised by team owner Arthur Blank last week when Mike Smith was fired as head coach..

Thomas Dimitroff is still the general manager. He will still have the final call on personnel decisions. However, the day-to-day operations of pro scouting, college scouting and the NFL Draft are now in the hands of Scott Pioli, who was brought to the organization a year ago to be Dimitroff’s second-hand man.

Also, the yet-to-be-hired head coach will report directly to team owner Arthur Blank and not to Dimitroff, as was the case with Smith for the last seven years.

The Baltimore Ravens have a similar structure to their front office. Longtime executive Ozzie Newsome is still the GM, but assistant GM Eric DeCosta has similar duties to what Pioli will have with the Falcons.

The release by the team said Dimitroff will maintain management responsibility for salary cap, player affairs, equipment, sports medicine and performance and video activities.

Dimitroff and Pioli worked together previously from 2002-2007 with the New England Patriots. A year after Dimitroff left for the Falcons, Pioli left New England for the Kansas City Chiefs as their GM. From 2009 through 2012, Pioli was the Chiefs’ GM and won the NFL Executive of the Year award in 2010.

Multiple national reporters have said Wednesday night that Dimitroff will still have final say on all personnel matters. Here are some tweets from reporters:

Chris Mortensen @mortreport
“Don’t misinterpret Falcons’ restructuring – simply following Ravens model. In the end, GM Thomas Dimitroff retains final say on personnel.”

Dan Pompei @danpompei
“Falcons furniture rearranging looks like change for sake of change. Structure is overrated. Unchanged: Dimitroff and Pioli are a good team.”

The Falcons hope to have a head coach in place soon. They have had to delay additional interviews by an extra day due to the death and pending funeral of Blank’s mother. So Teryl Austin will now interview Friday and Todd Bowles will interview Saturday.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Wednesday that after a five-plus hour meeting Tuesday, former Jets coach Rex Ryan will be brought back for a second interview.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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