Lions reportedly will interview ex-Falcons boss Thomas Dimitroff for general manager post

Detroit News

John Niyo
| The Detroit News

Lions ownership promised a thorough search to find a new general manager and head coach, and the numbers are starting to add up.

Former Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff is scheduled to interview with the team next week, the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Thursday. Dimitroff, a two-time NFL executive of the year who worked as a Lions area scout in the mid-1990s, is the third known external candidate on the Lions’ interview list, joining former Houston Texans GM Rick Smith and ESPN analyst Louis Riddick.

The NFL doesn’t allow teams to interview front-office executives or coaches employed by other teams until after the regular season. So the Lions, much like Atlanta and Houston, two other teams that have GM vacancies, are using this month to meet with available candidates.

Dimitroff, a 54-year-old Ohio native, spent the last 12-plus years in Atlanta, where he built a team that went to two NFC championship games and a berth in Super Bowl LI, where the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead to lose to the New England Patriots.

It was in New England that Dimitroff got his start as an executive, spending six years with the Patriots, first as a national scout and then as the team’s director of college scouting from 2003-07. 

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Dimitroff was fired by the Falcons in October along with head coach Dan Quinn following Atlanta’s 0-5 start this season.

The Lions already have interviewed three in-house candidates for their GM vacancy: vice president of player personnel Kyle O’Brien, director of player personnel Lance Newmark and director of pro scouting Rob Lohman.

Lions president Rod Wood was asked earlier this week how much of an emphasis the team was putting on experience in the search for new leadership.

“Certainly experience is something we’re going to take into account,” Wood said Tuesday, as the team announced ex-Lions linebacker Chris Spielman was joining the front office in a new special assistant’s role. “If somebody has had prior experience as either a GM or a head coach, you have maybe a better opportunity to evaluate what they may do in either job, but it’s not going to be a prerequisite necessarily.

“I think we’re trying to find the best team, and if that means they’re two first-time individuals, that’ll be what happens. If it means one of them has experience and one of them doesn’t, that’ll be what happens. But certainly, having experiences, it gives you an opportunity to evaluate whether they’ve been successful in the job, versus trying to project.”

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