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Falcons Show Strong Interest in Bill Belichick, but Not Pursuing Jim Harbaugh Yet

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Bill Belichick will not be a fit for every team with an HC vacancy. The six-time Super Bowl-winning leader will turn 72 in April; no team has hired a head coach older than 66. A rebuild effort would not seemingly be a fit, as Belichick is intent on breaking Don Shula‘s career wins record.

Now officially separated from the Patriots after 24 years, Belichick is a coaching free agent. While several teams have been tied to the all-time great, Falcons noise is growing louder. After previous connections emerged, ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano notes the Falcons are expected to have strong interest in Belichick.

Although Arthur Blank inherited Dan Reeves upon buying the Falcons in 2002, each of his head coach hires (Jim Mora Jr., Bobby Petrino, Mike Smith, Dan Quinn, Arthur Smith) had never been an NFL HC. Belichick laps 2024’s candidate field in accomplishments and NFL experience, having debuted in the league with the Baltimore Colts in the mid-1970s. The 29-year HC (five in Cleveland) would stand to appeal to Blank, who is 81 and has seen his franchise drift off the contender map since Belichick’s Patriots erased a 28-3 deficit in Super Bowl LI.

This position could certainly appeal to Belichick as well. The Falcons used back-to-back-to-back top-10 picks on skill-position players, and Pro Football Focus ranked Atlanta’s offensive line — one spearheaded by Chris Lindstrom and Jake Matthews — fourth overall. After some free agency dollars went to defense in 2023, the Falcons finished 11th in total defense and 18th in points allowed. The Saints’ 48-point finish dinged the latter placement, and DVOA was not as bullish, slotting the Falcons 24th. But the unit is improved from 2022.

Granted, Belichick going from one team without a quarterback answer to another would be a lot to ask — especially if the Chargers are legitimately interested — but the Falcons are expected to take a bigger QB swing after standing down and going with Desmond Ridder last year. Some close to Belichick view this as a good fit for the veteran coach, Graziano adds. The team looks to be planning to keep Terry Fontentot as GM, though it seems it is flexible regarding his power going into his fourth year on the job. That said, the Falcons value Fontenot, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, making it hard to believe they will push him out at this point.

Another NFC South all-in push would be fascinating, considering the blueprint the Buccaneers established upon signing Tom Brady in 2020. Granted, Belichick has not been known — in most offseasons, at least — for wild spending to fortify his roster, but his vision may change if a short-term plan is in place. He is 14 wins shy of Shula’s all-time record. In terms of cap space, the Falcons — who again hold the No. 8 overall pick after a 7-10 season — reside in the middle of the pack, being projected to carry more than $21MM.

While it does seem like a Belichick-Falcons interview will take place, the team has sent out eight requests to other staffers Thursday. Jim Harbaugh has not yet received a slip from the Falcons, and Fowler adds the team does not look to have launched a pursuit of Michigan’s national championship-winning HC just yet. Harbaugh figures to have options out west, but the Belichick-to-Georgia storyline is obviously one to monitor going forward.

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