The Atlanta Falcons decision to part ways with director of player personnel Lionel Vital this weekend was part of the shakeup owner Arthur Blank cited in a statement announcing he would retain general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
Could the next move involve the hiring of former Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery to fill a role? It certainly seems like a possibility based on Emery's mysterious presence throughout this past season.
Emery, who was fired by the Bears following the 2014 campaign, made at least two cameo appearances with the Falcons in 2015. He walked off the field alongside the players and coaches after an Aug. 13 practice. Emery also attended at least one Falcons home game, taking notes while sitting in the front row of the press box, just a few seats away from ESPN.com.
Though it wasn't evident then, Emery could have been auditioning for a position. He was the Falcons' director of college scouting from 2004-2008 and discovered all-time leading receiver Roddy White at UAB. He held the same role with Kansas City from 2009-2011 under then-Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, who is now the Falcons' assistant general manager. During those years, the Chiefs found safety Eric Berry and pass-rusher Justin Houston.
But if Emery reunites with Pioli and Dimitroff in Atlanta, there will be criticism based on Emery's track record with the Bears. In three seasons as the Bears general manager, his decisions included the firing of Lovie Smith after a 10-6 season, the parting of ways with the face of the franchise, Brian Urlacher, the hiring of Marc Trestman as head coach over Bruce Arians, and the signing of quarterback Jay Cutler to a lucrative contract. Both Emery and Trestman were fired after a 5-11 showing in '14.
Emery struggled to build the defense in Chicago, and his first draft selection was defensive end Shea McClellin of Boise State, who was a major disappointment as a pass-rusher and was moved to inside linebacker. His best moves with the Bears were the drafting of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and offensive lineman Kyle Long.
We'll see how everything unfolds as the Falcons attempt to get it right with free agency and the draft coming off an 8-8 season. But again, is seems like Emery, who turned 57 on Saturday, appeared to hover around the franchise for a reason.