The Super Bowl is over. Now, it's time for the Atlanta Falcons to really get to work.
New assistant general manager Scott Pioli officially starts his new job Monday after fulfilling his commitments as an analyst for NBC Sports Network and Sirius XM Radio. No doubt Pioli has already analyzed the Falcons' roster from top to bottom. And general manager Thomas Dimitroff no doubt has taken into consideration some of Pioli's input as the Falcons prepare to retool for the 2014 season.
Changes should begin this week with the release of some players. The most likely immediate candidates are veteran cornerback Asante Samuel – who was drafted in New England by Pioli – linebacker Stephen Nicholas and offensive lineman Garrett Reynolds. All three players lost their starting roles this past season
Other notable veterans could lose their jobs, depending on what positions the Falcons target in free agency.
Regardless of what moves are made, the real test for Pioli will be what type of influence he has on upgrading the talent on the roster, particularly through the draft. The Falcons currently own the sixth overall pick.
During his stint as the general manager in Kansas City, Pioli drafted Pro Bowl defensive players such as Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe. While he was vice president of player personnel in New England, Pioli drafted players such as Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren, Logan Mankins, Jerod Mayo, and Deion Branch.
Pioli was the Patriots' assistant director of personnel when the team drafted Tom Brady in the sixth round in 2000.
``Scott is a good personnel guy,'' said former Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel, now the defensive coordinator for the Texans. ``And I think he'll be a good addition and work well in that system. He's one of the better personnel guys in the league. And he's able to get good players. In New England, he got good players. We had good players in Kansas City. So, I think his track record speaks for itself.''
Cleveland Browns assistant general manager Ray Farmer was the Kansas City's director of pro personnel under Pioli.
``He's very thorough,'' Farmer said of Pioli. ``He leaves no stone unturned. ... He does a great job of filtering information and taking a lot of different pieces and putting them together. He did a really good job of identifying guys who could come in and contribute. There is a variety of names that you could associate with Scott Pioli. And it's good for him that he's back in. He deserves it.''