ESPN ponders ‘awkward’ QB room the Falcons must manage

NFL: MAR 01 Scouting Combine

The biggest issue with the Falcons drafting Michael Penix 8th overall not even two months after signing Kirk Cousins to a $180 million free agent deal is the misallocation of resources.

There is virtually no way for Atlanta to maximize either contract. With Penix’s rookie deal, the Falcons could’ve spent their extra cap space on offensive weapons or bolstering a questionable defense. That’s not possible with Cousins’ contract. The Falcons also could’ve drafted a defender or pass catcher to help Cousins, instead of his successor.

That’s obvious, but another intriguing aspect of this dynamic is the awkwardness in the quarterback room, which ESPN’s Dan Graziano recently talked about.

How will the Falcons manage the league’s most awkward quarterback room?

In the short term, however, they’ve created a potentially very difficult situation for coach Raheem Morris and their new coaching staff. If Cousins struggles to perform or to recover from his Achilles injury, the fans and locker room may well want to see Penix. If Penix looks fantastic in practice, it’ll increase pressure on the organization to move on from Cousins sooner than they originally planned. And if the Falcons struggle on defense and it costs them a chance to win the division, there’ll be grumbling about whether they’d have been better off using the eighth pick on someone who could have better helped the 2024 roster. It feels like a no-win scenario for Morris in his first year as the Falcons’ coach, and that’s a shame.

That ‘awkwardness’ may be here before the Falcons even realize too. Ian Rapoport recently reported that Cousins won’t receive the “full complement of reps” this offseason.

“The other part of this as Raheem Morris noted today is that Cousins is not going to get the full complement of reps this Spring, which means we are going to see plenty of Michael Penix Jr.,” Rapoport said.

I’ll continue to say it, but the worst-case scenario for the Falcons is to watch Michael Penix spin the rock while Cousins watches from the sidelines. Raheem Morris and Terry Fontenot can keep Penix on the bench all they want, but they won’t be able to stop the murmurs.

Falcons players are going to see Penix’s incredible arm on full display, which could bring about whispers of a change.  Maybe Atlanta avoids any kind of drama thanks to veterans like Jessie Bates, Chris Lindstrom, Grady Jarrett, and others, but this is a conversation that is only getting started.

Morris and Fontenot are going to have to keep this train on the tracks; it might already be going off the rails as Cousins makes his way back from injury.

Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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