National Football League
Falcons notified Kirk Cousins of Michael Penix Jr. pick while on the clock
National Football League

Falcons notified Kirk Cousins of Michael Penix Jr. pick while on the clock

Updated Apr. 26, 2024 12:37 a.m. ET

The Atlanta Falcons appeared to solve their quarterback problem when they signed veteran Pro Bowler Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract with the first two years and $90 million guaranteed.

So just about everyone in the NFL world was shocked when the Falcons took Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft — including Cousins. 

Michael Penix Jr. STUNS NFL Draft, 6 QBs drafted in first round - Dave Helman | NFL on FOX Pod

Cousins was reportedly blindsided by the Falcons' decision. The team never gave him an indication they were considering a quarterback with their first-round pick until they called him while they were on the clock and about to submit the pick. Various reports described Cousins' response to the news as "stunned," "shocked" and "disappointed" as well as "inherent frustration and confusion" that the pick was not used to improve the projected 2024 Falcons roster but instead pick his eventual replacement.


Cousins' agent Mike McCartney went on the record with multiple outlets, including ESPN and NFL Media, to confirm that Cousins had no idea of the Falcons' plans until they called him, but the 35-year-old quarterback "understands the business of football" and "is ready to move forward" with his new team.

Most mock drafts had Atlanta taking a defensive player, such as Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner, who instead went to the Minnesota Vikings — Cousins' old team — at No. 17. The Falcons' young offensive core is well-regarded, including running back Bijan Robinson, wide receiver Drake London and tight end Kyle Pitts, and the team's defense saw improvement in 2023 as well. That makes the Falcons a trendy pick to win the NFC South and return to the NFL Playoffs in 2024 regardless of what they did in this year's draft.

Still, the decision to spend nearly $100 million in guaranteed money on a veteran quarterback, then immediately draft a rookie at the exact same position, is one virtually nobody expected out of the Falcons this offseason. Especially not that $100 million veteran quarterback.

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Atlanta Falcons
Kirk Cousins
Michael Penix Jr.

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