ATLANTA (AP) -Tom Dimitroff was hired as general manager of the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, leaving his job as director of scouting for the unbeaten New England Patriots.
Dimitroff, who has been with the Patriots since 2002, will direct the Falcons' football operations, including working with a new head coach on draft decisions, free agency, trades and other personnel decisions.
The Falcons had a dreadful 4-12 season, one which saw star quarterback Michael Vick sentenced to a 23-month prison term after a federal dogfighting conviction.
Dimitroff reports to president Rich McKay, the Falcons' former GM whose 17-month contract extension was finalized Sunday.
McKay will handle the business side of the operation and reports to owner Arthur Blank, who still is looking for a coach to replace Bobby Petrino. Petrino abruptly quit after 13 games to take the head coaching job at Arkansas.
The Falcons said Dimitroff will begin work immediately. The hiring came a day after the Patriots beat Jacksonville in an AFC playoff game to improve to 17-0.
``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.''
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.

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