FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes some early thoughts on free agency from Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff as well as a pair of new head coaches in the NFL.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
*Atlanta Journal-Constitution: *Falcons want to re-sign Poe, Clayborn and Bryant
During the Falcons' end of season press conference, general manager Thomas Dimitroff explained that a contract extension for quarterback Matt Ryan was the team's top priority. The reigning NFL MVP's contract will likely shape other negotiations for the team, but Dimitroff has not given up hopes of signing some of the Falcons' unrestricted free agents, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the *AJC. *
Three players who Ledbetter specifically asked about were defensive linemen Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn as well as kicker Matt Bryant.
"Not necessarily," Dimitroff told Ledbetter when asked if Poe and Clayborn were going to become unrestricted free agents. "For us, we are in the process of truly evaluating where we are across the entire defense. Again, when you are looking at signing a quarterback, you have to make sure that you have the flexibility to do other positions. We are truly spending a lot of time looking at where we are along the defensive front and how it compares to where we might be with Matt and a couple of other guys that we are looking to re-sign."
Dimitroff also expressed the Falcons' intention to continue talks with Bryant about his status with the team for next season.
Here are some more stories on the Falcons:
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL
NFL.com: Giants hire Shurmur; Cardinals hire Wilks
A pair of head-coaching vacancies were filled Monday, as the Giants and Cardinals each announced a hire. It was reported last week that the Giants were closing in on Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as their next head coach, but the hire couldn't be made official until Minnesota was eliminated from the postseason.
Following the Vikings' loss to the Eagles on Sunday night, Shurmur's hiring could be made official. "We are pleased to welcome Pat to our organization and look forward to the leadership he will provide for our team," team president John Mara and chairman Steve Tisch said in a release from the team, per Nick Shook of NFL.com. "He has an outstanding track record in developing young players, and it is clear his players respond to his guidance and direction. We interviewed six talented and qualified candidates, and we feel like Pat, with his vision and experience, is the right person to lead our team."
The Cardinals were left looking for a new head coach after Bruce Arians' decision to retire following the end of the season. Many candidates were considered for the Cardinals job, including Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, but NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is expected to be formally introduced as Arizona's next head coach on Tuesday.
Here are some more articles from around the league:
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