Falcons GM Explains Why Team Drafted Michael Penix Jr. After Signing Kirk Cousins

Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Penix Jr.
Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Penix Jr. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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The Atlanta Falcons stunned the football world when they drafted Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 pic in the 2024 draft, adding the former Washington standout to a quarterbacks room that already consists of Kirk Cousins.

Cousins, of course, was signed this offseason to a hefty four-year, $180 million deal, which includes up to $100 million in guaranteed money, making the window for Penix to step into the starting role a distant one.

After the draft, Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Raheem Morris explained their decision to select Penix and detailed their vision for the rookie quarterback.

"When you can add a high-caliber player like that, with his intangibles, those tools, he's a winner. Very, very excited. You don't pass up that opportunity," Fontenot said. "Kirk Cousins is our quarterback, we're very excited about Kirk. Very excited about this team. Michael Penix is–we're talking about the future."

"If [Penix] sits for four or five years, that's a great problem to have because we're doing so well at that position," he added.

Both Fontenot and Morris spoke extremely highly of Penix, though they also maintained the team's present commitment to Cousins. Morris also confirmed the reports that Cousins was only informed of Atlanta's decision to select Penix while the team was on the clock on Thursday night.

Fontenot also indicated the team was intending to follow the model set by the Green Bay Packers, who drafted Jordan Love despite having Aaron Rodgers starring on the roster.

Although it may be a while until Penix actually sees significant time on the field for the Falcons, both Fontenot and Morris were adamant that the selection was the right one, making clear that they felt the left-handed quarterback was a can't-miss prospect.

Karl Rasmussen


Karl Rasmussen is a writer on Sports Illustrated’s Breaking & Trending News Team. A University of Oregon alum, his work has appeared on 12up and ClutchPoints. He’s a loyal Tottenham, Jets, Yankees and Ducks fan.