National Football League
Why the Falcons having both Kirk Cousins, Michael Penix could work
National Football League

Why the Falcons having both Kirk Cousins, Michael Penix could work

Published Apr. 26, 2024 3:22 p.m. ET

When an NFL team signs a quarterback to a deal that includes $100 million guaranteed, it typically indicates that the team will not go and draft a quarterback with the No. 8 pick in the NFL Draft. But that's exactly what the Atlanta Falcons did, signing Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million deal with the aforementioned guaranteed money and then selecting Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

All that said, could there be more to this impulsively puzzling decision than meets the eye?

[From no QBs to two QBs: Will Falcons' move pay off?]

On Friday's edition of "The Herd," host Colin Cowherd opined why adding Penix makes sense for the Falcons.


"You know what else needs insurance? NFL teams at quarterback, but the difference with this insurance policy [is] you'll pay into it for a year and then it potentially will pay you for the next 15 [years] and make you rich, and that's a bad investment? It's an insurance policy for a year, and then it's going to pay you potentially Year 2-to-Year 15," Cowherd said about the Falcons taking Penix. "Who cares if Kirk Cousins is upset that they drafted Michael Penix? Aaron Rodgers was upset when they drafted Jordan Love. [Brett] Favre was upset when they drafted Aaron Rodgers. And they're both better than Kirk Cousins, and they were both in their prime; Kirk's not. Who cares if he's upset? He's made more money, seriously, than [Tom] Brady at quarterback; he'll get over it. 

"This is not a catastrophe. When's the last time you heard a team say this, ‘we have the best quarterback in our division and maybe the best backup in the NFL?' That's a problem? For the record, you know who teams didn't move up to get? J.J. McCarthy. Even Minnesota liked him, [but] moved up [only] one spot. Reportedly, Seattle, the Raiders and the Saints all tried to move up into the top 10 to get Penix."

Penix was the fourth quarterback selected in Round 1 and became one of six signal-callers taken in the top 12, which marked an NFL record. The left-handed quarterback spent the past two seasons at Washington after spending the first four at Indiana (2018-21), where he had four season-ending injuries. 

Across his two seasons under center in Seattle, Penix averaged 4,772 passing yards, 33.5 passing touchdowns, 9.5 interceptions, and a 154.2 passer rating per season while completing 65.4% of his passes. Furthermore, the Huskies went 25-3 with Penix under center over that span, highlighted by them reaching the College Football Playoff National Championship last season. Penix was the runner-up for the 2023 Heisman Trophy award.

As for Atlanta's prized free agent pickup, Cousins will be 36 at the start of the 2024 NFL season and is coming off a torn Achilles, which he suffered eight games into the 2023 season. A four-time Pro Bowler, Cousins was on pace to break his career-high in passing touchdowns last season with the Vikings.

The Falcons are coming off their third consecutive 7-10 season, which ended with head coach Arthur Smith getting fired after three years. He was replaced by former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator and Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris. 

Atlanta traded its primary 2023 quarterback, Desmond Ridder, to the Arizona Cardinals for wide receiver Rondale Moore earlier this offseason. Veteran quarterback Taylor Heinicke remains on Atlanta's roster but has no more guaranteed remaining money on his two-year deal.

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Atlanta Falcons
Kirk Cousins
Michael Penix Jr.

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