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Falcons interview Eagles' GM Heckert

ATLANTA - Philadelphia general manager Tom Heckert interviewed on Monday in the Atlanta Falcons' ongoing search to restructure their front office.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank would like to hire a replacement for Rich McKay, his GM since December 2003, before deciding on his next coach.

McKay could remain as team president through 2010, but he has yet to sign a two-year contract extension Blank offered on Friday.

Heckert might decide to leave the Eagles, who promoted him to GM in 2003, because he would have the final say on personnel decisions with Atlanta.

In Philadelphia, Heckert defers to coach Andy Reid, the team's executive vice president of football operations.

Blank wants to hire an experienced GM with success in the NFL, criteria that the 40-year-old Heckert would seem to meet.

Heckert spent 10 seasons with the Miami Dolphins before the Eagles hired him as director of player personnel in 2001. Reid promoted him to general manager two years later.

In his first draft as GM, Heckert recommended the selections of cornerback Lito Sheppard, safety Michael Lewis, running back Brian Westbrook and cornerback Sheldon Brown.

Philadelphia picked offensive lineman Shawn Andrews in 2004, a year in which he also traded backup quarterback A.J. Feeley to Miami for a second-round spot in '05. The Eagles used that pick, No. 35 overall, to select former Georgia receiver Reggie Brown.

Blank thought Bill Parcells would take charge of the Falcons' front office, but their deal fell apart Dec. 19.

Later that day, Parcells signed with the Miami Dolphins, and Blank said in a statement that McKay would 'retain general manager responsibilities until a new GM is hired.'

McKay is helping Blank interview coaching and GM candidates following a 4-12 season that began with quarterback Michael Vick's federal indictment and ended with coach Bobby Petrino's sudden resignation.

Vick, once the face of the franchise, was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for his role in an interstate dogfighting conspiracy. On Dec. 11, the day after Vick stood to hear his fate in a U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., Petrino abruptly left the Falcons after just 13 games and signed with Arkansas.

Before interviewing Heckert, Blank also received permission to meet with Green Bay's Reggie McKenzie and John Schneider, the two highest-ranking officials under Packers GM Ted Thompson.

Green Bay re-signed Thompson on Monday to a new five-year contract that runs through 2012.

The Falcons have interviewed at least three coaching candidates, Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and two assistant head coaches, Jim Caldwell of Indianapolis and Tony Sparano of the Cowboys.