Who Will Join Parcells in Atlanta?

Now that it appears Bill Parcells is about to return to the league as the head of football operations for the Atlanta Falcons, the question is: Who will join him in Atlanta?

Parcells is scheduled to speak today with Falcons owner Arthur Blank and the two might complete their deal.

Parcells told the New York Daily News earlier today: "I think I probably will do it. The job description is to be the football operations overseer. We still have a little work to do, but I don't think it's anything major. I don't expect any real deal-breaker. I don't think there will be any major hangups."

He told the newspaper that he will hire a general manager as well as a coach.

"I'm going to oversee the football operation," Parcells said. "I'm going to hire a general manager if the deal is finalized in Atlanta. We are going to hire a coach and talk to all the coaches who are there. It's going to be a collective effort. The triangle is going to be the GM, the coach and Bill Parcells. I'm also going to include Rich McKay [the Falcons' current president and general manager] if he wants to stay in the business. Under no circumstances is Bill Parcells ever going to return to the field" as coach.

The possibilities for Parcells's general manager could include New England Patriots front office chief Scott Pioli, New York Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and Dallas Cowboys executive Jeff Ireland.

Pioli is Parcells's son-in-law and is one of the sport's most respected executives. He and Patriots Coach Bill Belichick could be en route to a fourth Super Bowl title together. But Belichick has final say over the Patriots' player-related decisions, and it's been thought for some time that Pioli might leave at some point for a general manager job elsewhere. His title with the Patriots is vice president of player personnel. However, Pioli declined to interview for the New York Giants' general manager job last offseason, and it probably would require a job in which he'd have final say over personnel decisions for him to get out of his contract with the Patriots. Parcells, not the general manager, would have that in Atlanta.

Tannenbaum once worked with Parcells with the Jets. But he, too, might have trouble escaping his contract for what would be a lateral move.

Ireland is the Cowboys' vice president of college and pro scouting and worked with Parcells closely during Parcells's time in Dallas. The two would set the Cowboys' draft board together, and Ireland would review players first and tell Parcells which ones merited his attention. Parcells became fond of Ireland's work and spoke glowingly of him.

One head coaching possibility being mentioned by Parcells associates is Todd Haley, who was Parcells's passing game coordinator in Dallas and now is the Arizona Cardinals' offensive coordinator. Another Parcells favorite, Maurice Carthon, is the Cardinals' running backs coach. Mike Zimmer, formerly Parcells's defensive coordinator in Dallas, already is in Atlanta as the Falcons' defensive coordinator.

The Falcons reportedly already asked former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher if he was interested in coaching them next season, and Cowher said no.

By Mark Maske |  December 19, 2007; 12:05 PM ET  | Category:  Falcons
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