A way-too-early look at QB options for Falcons in 2024

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With three games left in the 2023 campaign, the Falcons’ postseason hopes are all but dashed.

A loss to the 1-12 Panthers effectively ended Atlanta’s playoff possibilities. They haven’t been mathematically eliminated, but they no longer control their own destiny.

The Falcons lost a demoralizing 9-7 contest to the worst team in football, prompted by yet another Desmond Ridder red zone turnover. It’s clear he isn’t a starting-caliber quarterback in this league, and Arthur Smith is making yet another change.

It was reported on Tuesday that Ridder would be benched for the second time this season as the club once again turns to Taylor Heinicke. Though Arthur Smith’s job is in question, the Falcons know the franchise quarterback isn’t in the building.

Entering the offseason, Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith, or whoever the head coach is, will be searching for another signal caller. Here’s a way-too-early look at some possible options.

Free Agency

There are really only three viable options as I see it — Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield, and Ryan Tannehill.

Tannehill is going to be linked to Atlanta as long as his former offensive coordinator is still the head coach. He’s aging and wouldn’t be a long-term solution, but it would probably net better immediate results than a rookie.

Mayfield has been a revelation in Tampa Bay. He’s younger and easy to rally behind, but his ceiling limits how far this Falcons team could go. With that being said, Atlanta would’ve 100% won the division with Mayfield under center this season.

Cousins is the same age as Tannehill but plays a different brand of football that would likely age better even after tearing his Achilles. The veteran might sign back with the Vikings, but the weapons in Atlanta have to be enticing for a guy who could soon become a mercenary-type quarterback.


The Falcons could very well mortgage their future and move several first-round picks for the rights to draft Caleb Williams or Drake Maye. They’re franchise quarterbacks in the making, and there’s already a formidable supporting cast for them.

There’s another tier of first-rounders that could also interest the Falcons. I’d say Jayden Daniels is in a tier of his own, followed by J.J. McCarthy and Bo Nix. The reigning Heisman winner has skills to refine, but he’s easily the most dynamic of this class and certainly throws the prettiest deep ball; it’s not particularly close either.

McCarthy and Nix are going to be game managers and products of their systems. It’s not to say they won’t be able to succeed, but they’ll need to fall in the right situations.

After them, it’ll be more lottery tickets like Desmond Ridder. No, thank you.


The trade market could be quite robust depending on how the draft goes. The few teams selecting at the top of the draft could look to potentially move their current quarterback — Patriots, Bears, and Cardinals.

Now, I’m not saying the Falcons should inquire about the availability of Mac Jones, Justin Fields, and Kyler Murray or even that they’ll be moved. I’m just highlighting the possibilities.

New England and Chicago could look to reset their rookie quarterback contracts as Jones and Fields enter the final year of their rookie contracts with a decision on their fifth-year options needed this offseason.

Fields, the more dynamic of the two, is a more logical fit for the Falcons, but this regime passed over the Georgia native during the 2021 draft in favor of Kyle Pitts, so one could assume they won’t be interested a second time around.

Jones doesn’t seem like a scheme fit, but if the Alabama star finds the right situation, he’ll prove the problems in New England aren’t on him, but rather on the roster and coaching staff.

Murray is the least likely of this trio to be moved. The Cardinals could just use their top five draft pick on a new weapon like Marvin Harrison or Brock Bowers. However, if they fall in love with Williams or Maye, Murray would be dealt, and his dual threat skill set meshes with Arthur Smith’s scheme.

There are also some wild cards like Russell Wilson, Trey Lance, and Daniel Jones. None would excite Falcons fans but are nonetheless potential options.

Photographer: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire


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