Looking at NFC South front offices

The Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints made this list of the NFL’s top-10 front offices.

No big surprise there. The Saints and Falcons have been consistent winners the past few years, and the front offices undoubtedly have played a big role.

But I am a little surprised that the Saints were ranked No. 9 and the Falcons came in at No. 6. New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis and the people that work for him, and Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff and the people that work with him are very good at what they do. But I think you have to give the Saints the edge here, because they have won a Super Bowl. The Falcons have won a lot of regular-season games since Dimitroff’s arrival, but they have yet to win a playoff game during his tenure.

Until that changes, I can’t justify putting the Falcons ahead of the Saints in this category. But Loomis obviously is at a critical point in his career. He has yet to get franchise quarterback Drew Brees signed to a long-term deal. Brees has admitted he’s frustrated with what he called a lack of communication. But I still think this deal will get done before the July 16 deadline for franchise players to sign long-term contracts.

If things somehow don’t get worked out and Brees sits out the season, then Loomis immediately falls off the top of this list. But Loomis has been creative and completed complicated contracts in the past. If he signs Brees to a long-term deal, then Loomis stays atop the list for the foreseeable future.

Dimitroff is a very solid No. 2 in the division. He’s had some good drafts and acquired guys like Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez. But Dimitroff needs guys like Ray Edwards, Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel to step up. He also needs the Falcons to get some postseason wins.

The Panthers and Buccaneers didn’t make the list of the top-10 front offices. Given the recent history of the two franchises, that’s not surprising. But Carolina’s Marty Hurney is the dean of NFC South general managers, and he’s had some success in the past. Hurney took a major step in rebuilding the Panthers by drafting quarterback Cam Newton last year. If Newton can duplicate his rookie performance, Hurney has a chance to crack the top 10.

Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik is entering a crucial season. He outlasted former coach Raheem Morris, and Dominik's offseason looks good on paper, but he needs the players he’s drafted to start showing some positive results.