Former New Orleans Saints’ vice president/assistant general manager for pro personnel, Terry Fontenot has officially joined the Atlanta Falcons as its newest general manager.

The 40-year-old sports vet joins the Falcons’ organization after spending the last 18 years of his career with the Saints. According to Black Enterprise, this latest hiring makes Fontenot the team’s first Black general manager.

“Over the last 18 years I have been honored and blessed with the opportunity to learn and grow within a great organization,” Fontenot wrote in a prepared statement. “I don’t have the words to express my thanks and gratitude to the late Mr. [Tom] Benson, Mrs. Benson, Mickey Loomis, Dennis Lauscha, Coach [Sean] Payton, and the entire Saints family. Without their mentorship and guidance, I would not be in the position I am today, and we are thankful for everything they have provided our family for nearly two decades.”

Fontenot concluded his statement outlining the next steps in his new position and thanking the Falcons for allowing him to join its organization.

“Because of the [New Orleans Saints] leadership and the opportunities they provided me, I have been selective on what direction my career would take, with a focus on organizations that aligned with my principals and goals. With the Atlanta Falcons, I have found the perfect opportunity for my family’s next steps. I feel honored and thankful that Arthur Blank and [team president/CEO] Rich McKay have given me this privilege and I look forward to working alongside the two of them, Arthur Smith, and our entire organization as we strive together to reach our competitive goals and give our fans the performances they deserve. My family and I are thrilled to make our new home in Atlanta and look forward to meeting our fellow Falcon fans.”

Multiple media outlets had identified Fontenot as the favorite or at least one of “two or three finalists” to land this new vacant position, but had to wait to sign with a new team until after the Saints’ season concluded, according to league rules.

“When we started this process we were focused on finding someone that not only has a track record of identifying key building blocks that result in successful teams, but also someone who focuses on cohesive relationships within the building,” said Falcons owner and chairman, Arthur Blank in a statement. “We feel very strongly that we’ve found that individual in Terry Fontenot.”

He concluded saying: “Landing a leader of Terry’s stature, I believe our organization, players, fans and community will have confidence in our approach throughout this process as I am certain Terry will represent them and honor the expectations they have with tremendous passion and dedication to competitive excellence.”

This new hiring arrives after the NFL recently approved a plan to reward teams with draft picks for developing minority coaches and general managers, USA Today reports.

The act is reportedly another method to “bolster minority hiring for high-level jobs against the backdrop of a lagging record of diversity by its teams.”