Pats college scouting director Dimitroff takes over as Falcons GM

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tapping into the wealth of talent in the New England personnel department, the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night reached an agreement with Patriots director of college scouting Thomas Dimitroff to be the team's new general manager.

"I'm extremely excited to have the opportunity to become a part
of the Atlanta Falcons organization," Dimitroff said. "I'm
looking forward to working with Mr. Blank and Rich McKay, two
highly respected men in the world of professional football."

The Falcons, who made the hiring official Sunday, informed the five other candidates for the position of their decision on Saturday. Details of Dimitroff's contract, which is not yet signed, were not available.

Dimitroff will direct football operations and will work with a new head coach in final decisions regarding the draft, free agency, trades and other personnel decisions.

Dimitroff will report to president Rich McKay, the former general manager, whose 17-month contract extension also was announced Sunday. McKay had served as president and general manager but had the latter title removed by Falcons owner Blank in recent weeks.

"Thomas is a really bright football mind who comes out of the
most successful franchise in sports today," McKay said. "He has
an excellent track record of evaluating players, and I certainly
look forward to working with him."

McKay has remained with the Falcons as team president. His two-year contract extension will keep him in Atlanta through 2010.

McKay, who reports to Blank, will be responsible for marketing, finance, administration and all other executive duties. Also, he will continue to act as liaison to the league in all football and business-related matters, as well as direct the Falcons' efforts related to future stadium plans.

Blank said he was grateful to Patriots owner Robert Kraft for
allowing Dimitroff to leave while New England's season continued.

"In doing so, he is helping us complete our head coach search
in a timely manner, and ensuring the most positive and productive
relationship between the new head coach and general manager,"
Blank said.

A New England team official confirmed for ESPN.com before the Patriots' divisional-round playoff game victory against Jacksonville on Saturday night that Dimitroff had accepted the job. He will face a daunting task in rebuilding a threadbare roster and in helping to make viable again a franchise that this season drifted into irrelevance on the Atlanta sports scene.

"Tom's done a good job for us," Patriots coach Bill Belichick
said. "I've known him a long time since I was in Cleveland."

Dimitroff is expected to have considerable input in the Falcons' search for a head coach and sources said he has already offered some analysis to team officials in that regard. With the general manager spot filled, the Falcons could move relatively quickly to name a head coach to succeed Bobby Petrino, who resigned with three games remaining in his first NFL season.

An 18-year veteran in the league, Dimitroff has been with the Patriots for six years. He joined the franchise in 2002 as a national scout and then was named director of college scouting a year later.

Before joining the Pats' personnel department, Dimitroff worked nine seasons in the scouting departments of the Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns.

He also worked in the CFL and the World League.

Chris Mortensen is an NFL reporter for ESPN. Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer with ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.