Falcons' Mike Mularkey retires after 25 years of NFL coaching

Atlanta Falcons tight ends coach and former NFL head coach Mike Mularkey is retiring after 25 years of coaching in the NFL.

"I've been blessed to do this for a long time and have a lot of great memories from the game I love," Mularkey said in a statement. "I've also missed a lot of time with my family who I love and who has supported me so much throughout my career. I am looking forward to spending even more time with them and making even more memories."

Mularkey's retirement was one of two coaching moves the Falcons announced Thursday. They also added Joe Whitt Jr., last with the Cleveland Browns, as the new secondary coach under defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.

Mularkey, quarterback Matt Ryan's first NFL offensive coordinator back in 2008, came back as tight ends coach for the 2019 season. He was instrumental in the continued development of one-time Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper.

"I learned a tremendous amount from him; really value his leadership and wisdom," Hooper told ESPN after the Mularkey announcement.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn praised Mularkey for his career accomplishments.

"What an awesome career for Mike," Quinn said. "When you look back at his 25-year coaching career, you'll not only see a great coach but you'll also see an unbelievable human being and leader. Mike has been a great asset for our organization and for me personally. We wish he and his family well and congratulate him on a well-deserved retirement."

Mularkey, who is 58, was an NFL head coach for three franchises: the Buffalo Bills (2004-05), Jacksonville Jaguars ('12) and Tennessee Titans ('15-17) and had a career record of 36-53 in the regular season and 1-1 in the playoffs.

The Falcons didn't immediately announce a successor to Mularkey, who brought an emphasis on physical, run-oriented, power football to the offense -- an element the Falcons sorely need to reestablish next season. The Falcons could promote offensive assistant Ben Steele to tight ends coach, considering Steele coached the tight ends in Tampa Bay under current Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. Whatever the case, Quinn insisted the Falcons would examine ways to run the ball more efficiently next season.

The Falcons have made some adjustments to the staff after team owner Arthur Blank announced that Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff would be retained for the 2020 season and would report to team president Rich McKay. Quinn promoted Morris and named linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich assistant head coach, while defensive pass game coordinator/secondary coach Jerome Henderson and assistant defensive line coach Travis Jones left to pursue other opportunities.

Whitt, 41, was the defensive backs coach for the Falcons in 2007 when McKay was the GM, Bobby Petrino the head coach, and Mike Zimmer the defensive coordinator. Whitt is known for coaching Packers star Charles Woodson when Woodson was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2009).

"We welcome Joe to our coaching staff and back to Atlanta," Quinn said. "He has a history of coaching defensive backs that play with an aggressive attitude with a focus on takeaways."