Former NFL GM on Atlanta Falcons taking Michael Penix Jr.: ‘No adult supervision’

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

One former NFL general manager questioned the Atlanta Falcons’ decision to pick quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft, according to The Athletic’s Mike Sando.

“I’d love to know what the conversations were in Atlanta leading up to that and why there was no adult supervision,” a former GM said. “Truth be told, they could be good next year with Kirk Cousins, come away with the 25th or 26th pick, and then you take a quarterback in that range. That is what Green Bay did with Jordan Love, and it is fundamentally different from what Atlanta just did.”

The Falcons signed Cousins to a four-year, $180 million deal this offseason, but they still decided to draft his successor in the top 10 of the 2024 NFL Draft. While taking Penix does give the team some insurance behind Cousins, it might not have been the best use of the team’s resources.

Since the Falcons are likely looking to contend now with Cousins on the roster, it’s a tough decision to use a pick that high in the draft to take a player who will almost certainly be a backup if Cousins is healthy.

Atlanta could have drafted a defensive player, offensive lineman or another weapon on offense for Cousins to improve the roster in 2024, but it instead opted for a much longer play with the Penix selection.

Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot even suggested that it’s possible that Penix could sit for four or five seasons if the team is still doing well at quarterback (presumably with Cousins).

Despite that, Cousins’ contract does have an interesting breakdown, as the veteran doesn’t have a guaranteed salary after the first two seasons of the deal. It’s possible that Atlanta could move on from Cousins after two seasons – if he isn’t playing well – and turn the franchise over to Penix.

However, if Cousins does play well for the entirety of his contract with Atlanta, the Falcons would have to make a decision on Penix’s fifth-year option on his contract without him potentially playing at all as the starter.

Atlanta failed to make the playoffs last season, but it’s hoping that Cousins can be the answer to getting the team back to the postseason for the first time since the 2017 season.

As for Penix, he was one of the best quarterbacks in college football last season. The lefty threw for 4,903 yards, 36 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, leading the University of Washington to the national title game against the University of Michigan.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.