National Football League
Falcons’ ‘whole new offense’ built on explosive receivers for Kirk Cousins
National Football League

Falcons’ ‘whole new offense’ built on explosive receivers for Kirk Cousins

Published Mar. 26, 2024 10:31 a.m. ET

ORLANDO, Fla. — Much of the spotlight on the Falcons' offseason has rightfully been focused on adding quarterback Kirk Cousins, but coach Raheem Morris spoke at the NFL league meetings Tuesday about the importance of upgrading his receiving corps behind star Drake London.

"We're building a whole new Atlanta offense," Morris said, referencing new coordinator Zac Robinson and a desire to arm Cousins with better options downfield.

The Falcons signed receiver Darnell Mooney to a three-year, $39 million deal and acquired receiver Rondale Moore from the Cardinals for quarterback Desmond Ridder. Those two had 40 and 31 catches last year and join a Falcons offense that had only one receiver (London) catch even 20 passes last year, the rest combining for just two touchdowns.

"I thought it was really important that we get threats on all three levels of the field," Morris said. "Drake provides such a good threat from an underneath standpoint, from a high cross standpoint, from the stuff that he can really do. I thought putting pieces around him — like the Mooneys, like the Rondale Moores, some of the guys we brought back. ... I think those guys fit well within that room. You have to add to it their coach, Ike Hilliard, and some of his beliefs and what he's done in the past."


Mooney, 26, topped 1,000 receiving yards in 2021 with the Bears and had 31 catches for 414 yards last season. Moore, 23, has 1,201 receiving yards in three seasons with the Cardinals and caught 40 balls for 352 yards in 2023. The Falcons have also added receiver/returner Ray-Ray McCloud, who caught 39 passes for the Steelers in 2021 and had 12 catches with the 49ers last year. 

That retools the depth behind London, with the Falcons allowing Mack Hollins to sign with the Bills and Van Jefferson with the Steelers, with Scotty Miller remaining unsigned. Cousins, signed to a four-year, $180 million contract, is accustomed to strong receiver depth in Minnesota, with Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and K.J. Osborn all getting at least 48 catches last season.

"In all the places we've been ... I got a vision for how that position looks," said Morris, who spent time as an offensive assistant working specifically with the receivers in his first stint in Atlanta. "I was lucky enough to be around Roddy [White] and Julio Jones and Harry Douglas. ... You had different body types, you had different movement skills. You want to be able to put all those guys in that room, so you can really provide more opportunities for that quarterback to get those guys the football so you can be explosive."

The Falcons had more of a focus on tight ends in three years with Arthur Smith as head coach, and the team still has 2021 first-round pick Kyle Pitts but moved on from veteran Jonnu Smith this offseason. Atlanta signed Charlie Woerner, 26, primarily a blocking tight end in four years with the 49ers, totaling 11 catches for 120 yards, but he'll be a larger part of the pass and run game.

Did Kirk Cousins make the right move by signing with Falcons?

The NFL is investigating whether the Falcons had any improper contact with Cousins ahead of his signing, with punishment that could include fines or loss of draft picks. On Tuesday, Morris was asked specifically about allegations of tampering.

"I'm really not allowed to discuss it right now while it's under review," he said. "But I've got a lot of confidence in our people that we did the right thing. We'll talk about those things at the appropriate times, but right now is probably not that time."

With the excitement of hiring Morris and adding Cousins, Atlanta is seen by oddsmakers as the favorite to win the NFC South, even though the Bucs have won the division three times in a row and the Falcons have gone 7-10 in each of the past three seasons. One sports book has set the Falcons with an over/under of 10.5 wins — only the 49ers are higher in the NFC — but Morris said he'll focus on improving his team and let the outside expectations be that.

"Every opportunity you have, you want to win," he said. "Not because of what the division looks like, more because of the people I'm around in our building, getting ready to go out there and win. I just think we're going to put ourselves in a really good spot. 

"You never know, man. That's why it's the best league in football."

Greg Auman is FOX Sports' NFC South reporter, covering the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints. He is in his 10th season covering the Bucs and the NFL full-time, having spent time at the Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic. You can follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.


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