The NFL has been lauded for its efforts to expand and broaden the Rooney Rule, including having it apply to coordinators and rewarding teams for developing minority head coaching and general manager talent. But there are often quirks that develop, and unintended consequences that emerge.
Specifically, the rule that owners recently voted on, to reward a team with two third-round compensatory draft picks, could prevent teams within a division from hiring a candidate they might otherwise choose. League sources said that the Falcons had been keeping a close eye on Saints assistant general manager Terry Fontenot for their vacant general manager position, but the odds of them actually hiring him are complicated by this rule.
"Think about it this way, how much is a general manager worth and how many options do you have?" said one league source with knowledge of the situation. "How many teams would trade two third-round picks for an unproven GM? That's not exactly how this works, but if it helps the team you have to catch to win your division at some point, how many teams would still do it?
"The Saints are their main rival, they know the Saints are in cap hell (in 2021) and New Orleans has done a great job in the draft. Is it worth them getting two straight extra third-round picks -- possible 10-year starters -- just to hire their assistant general manager? They like Terry a lot, but I'm telling you, that's a very real factor in the discussion. I'd be shocked if they did based on what I've heard."
It is undoubtedly a significant reward for the teams that are developing the talent and considered as a strong step in the right direction by many of the African American coaches and executives I have been in contact with. But when it comes to divisional rivals, it may come with unintended repercussions for certain candidates.