Falcons coach Mike Smith signed a three-year contract extension on Thursday, the team announced.
There had not been any in-season discussions about an extension for Smith, but the team made the contract extension the first order of business for the offseason.
“I am looking forward to continuing to build upon the solid foundation we have in place within our organization and on our football team,” Smith said in a statement released by the team. “I’d like to personally thank both (owner) Arthur (Blank) and (general manager) Thomas Dimitroff for their outstanding support and guidance. We are going to continue to work as hard as we can to bring a championship to Falcons fans and to the city of Atlanta.”
Smith has guided the Falcons to a 33-17 record in three seasons and has made two trips to the playoffs. The Falcons never had three consecutive winning seasons since being founded in 1966.
The Falcons won the NFC South title last season with a 13-3 record. They entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but were upset 48-21 by the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round.
Smith originally signed a four-year contract that was worth between $8 to $10 million.
Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
New England’s Bill Belichick ($7.5 million annually), Washington’s Mike Shanahan ($7 million) and Seattle’s Pete Carroll ($7 million) are the league’s top-paid head coaches, according to Forbes Magazine.
“When we hired Mike Smith in 2008, we believed we had found the total package: a head coach with strong leadership skills and experience and the track record to back it up, and a man of high character and integrity,” Blank said. “In his three seasons with us, Coach Smith has demonstrated all of these characteristics, and then some.
“We are pleased to extend Smitty’s contract, and we are very proud of the way he represents the Falcons through his coaching of our players, in supporting our club’s business goals, and through his caring for our fans and the community.”
Last season, Atlanta had a league-high nine players named to the 2010 Pro Bowl.
Smith’s emphasis on being a balanced team also led to the Falcons being the only team in the NFL this past season to rank in the top five in both scoring offense (25.9 ppg) and scoring defense (18.0 ppg).
Smith was named NFL coach of the year by The Sporting News in 2008 and 2010.
Following the 2008 season, Smith earned Associated Press NFL coach of the year honors.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter