Kirk Cousins's PFF Ranking Leaves Room to Rise

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins finds himself lower on PFF's rankings than expected.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins / Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
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We have said that with even average quarterback play last season the Atlanta Falcons make the playoffs and Arthur Smith is still the head coach. The Falcons didn't get average quarterback play last season.

Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke combined to rate 27th in the NFL in passing efficiency. Enter Kirk Cousins and his 4-year, $180-million contract. Cousins was the fourth-highest rated quarterback in the NFL before going down with an Achilles injury.

However, according to Pro Football Focus's (PFF) latest quarterback rankings, average is what the Falcons can expect from Cousins in 2024. Trevor Sikkema ranks Cousins No. 15 in the NFL among 32 starters, but he admits, he doesn't like his own ranking.

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"Honestly, this feels too low for Cousins," Sikkema began. "He has been one of the most consistently successful NFL quarterbacks over the past few years. In his past six seasons, he has not posted an overall season grade below 80.0 and has just one sub-80.0 passing grade. But 2023 showed hints of a downturn.

"Cousins played in only eight games in 2023 and was on pace for his lowest big-time throw rate before going down with a torn Achilles. However, he was also on track for his lowest turnover-worthy play rate. His adjusted completion percentage was at a career high but his average depth of target was at a career low. Now he’s 36 years old and coming off an Achilles tear with a new team in Atlanta. He has been incredibly efficient to this point in his career, and we’ll see if can be more aggressive in 2024."

It's fair to have questions how quickly Cousins can get back to his best coming off an injury and adjusting to a new team. However from a touchdown and interception perspective, Cousins was off to his best start in 2023 with 18 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

The Falcons threw for 17 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 17 games. While there seems to be some symmetry with those numbers, Cousins was better in less than half a season.

Cousins's contract has a $25-million salary cap hit in 2024 and $40 million in 2025. Those are manageable numbers. His cap number balloons to $57.5 million in 2026, but the bulk of his guaranteed money is gone by then.

If Cousins is only playing at an average level following the 2025 season, the Falcons will usher in the Michael Penix Jr. era.

The Falcons are hoping Cousins plays significantly better than just average.

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Scott Kennedy