As Arthur Blank plows forward to find the next general manager and coach of his football team, the Atlanta Falcons owner made it clear he has no intentions of putting restrictions on his new hires.
Blank said this week that if the new GM and coach decided the club would be better off moving on from franchise stars like Matt Ryan or Julio Jones, he wouldn’t stand in the way.
“You cannot hire the very best people you can hire, whether it be general managers or head coaches, and then tie their hands and tell them, well, this person is off limits and that one is off limits and that one,” Blank said, via the team’s official website. “What you’re asking them for, which is not off limits and needs to be probed deeply, do they have a championship plan, do they have a plan on turning around the franchise sooner rather than later so we’re winning in 2021? Do we have a plan that’s sustainable over a long period of time so we can make sure this team is competitive not just for the next year or two but over a longer period of time than that? … However that affects certain players, it affects certain players.”
Ryan has been a name bandied about in potential trade rumors, given that the Falcons could select his heir with the No. 4 overall pick.
The contracts for both Ryan and Jones would make them difficult to move on from in 2021, with huge chunks of dead money coming to the Falcons salary cap if they aren’t under contract in Atlanta. Ryan is slated to count $40.9 million against the cap in 2021, with Jones sitting at $23.05 million.
Even if a new GM or coach wants to move on from the veteran stars to ride young blood, it might take at least a year.
The salient point is that Blank won’t mandate his next brass to retain any of his favorite players, even if they’re some of the best in franchise history.
“I think it’s a mistake for an owner to lay out a set of dictates like that for general manager and head coach,” Blank said. “If I was a general manager or head coach considering this opportunity and I heard an owner say that, to me I’d be a little nervous because I think that’s crossing a line for me that I don’t believe an owner should ever cross.”
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