Giants' Mara withdraws from Falcons GM consideration

ATLANTA -- New York Giants vice president of player evaluation Chris Mara, who earlier this week met with Atlanta Falcons officials about the club's general manager vacancy, on Thursday removed himself from consideration for the position.

In a statement released by the Giants on Thursday afternoon, Mara thanked Atlanta owner Arthur Blank for the opportunity to interview but said he will remain in his current position with the New York franchise.

Mara is in his second tour of duty with the Giants and has served as the vice president of player evaluation since 2003. He previously worked as a Giants scout for 14 years and is regarded as an outstanding talent evaluator.

To date, the Falcons have formally interviewed four other candidates for the general manager job: Green Bay director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie, Packers personnel analyst John Schneider, Philadelphia general manager Tom Heckert and Jacksonville director of college scouting Gene Smith.

The team also conducted an interview by satellite with New England college scouting director Thomas Dimitroff, and league sources said there could be some interest in New Orleans college scouting director Rick Reiprish.

The feeling around the league is that Heckert is the front-runner for the job.

The general manager vacancy was created when Blank three weeks ago announced that Rich McKay would lose oversight of the personnel department. McKay last week agreed to a two-year contract extension, through 2010, to remain on board as the team president.

Atlanta, of course, is also seeking a new head coach to replace Bobby Petrino, who resigned with three games remaining in his first season.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.