Falcons assistant GM defends selection of Michael Penix Jr.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 08 CFP National Championship Michigan vs Washington

The Falcons brought quarterback controversy on themselves by taking Michael Penix Jr. with the 8th overall selection less than two months after signing Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract. It could end up being genius in the long run, but it will be nothing more than annoyance for front office members, players, and coaches over the next couple of seasons.

As long as the two quarterbacks are in the building, they will be at the forefront of the conversation. It really doesn’t matter what’s happening on the field, and that was the case earlier this week when multiple members of the organization met with the media.

All-Pro safety Jessie Bates II weathered the storm beautifully, like a true professional, saying, “I’m here to play football. Terry brought me here and I truly believe that everything that he does is to help this team. There’s going to be a lot of questions as to why we made that pick but as a leader I have to be like this is the vision.”

Having strong leaders in the locker room will make this situation much easier for Raheem Morris and the rest of the Falcons coaching staff to navigate, but their conviction in this plan is really what’ll make the difference.

That’s the kind of tone Assistant General Manager Kyle Smith took the podium with. He knows there are a lot of people second guessing the decision, but he believes Michael Penix was the type of quarterback prospect the Falcons couldn’t afford to pass up on.

Nobody can argue the Falcons belief in Penix. They clearly think he’s going to be the franchise quarterback for the next decade after Kirk Cousins’ time is up. So much so, they were willing to be publicly mocked now in hopes of reaping the benefits later.

However, everything seems to come back to one thing. If the Falcons were so confident in Penix being this can’t miss prospect, then why sign Kirk Cousins to a four-year $180 million contract? Why not give Penix the reins and reap the rewards of a quarterback on a rookie contract, the most advantageous deal in the entire sport? Why not give him everything he could possibly need to succeed?

One of these things must be true. Either the Falcons don’t truly have this unwavering belief in Michael Penix, so they hedged their bets by acquiring Kirk Cousins. Or they didn’t do enough homework on Penix, signed Kirk Cousins, then fell in love with the Washington quarterback later in the process and felt they could not let him slip away.

Both are damning for the organization. There’s simply no way any right-minded individual could look at how the Falcons handled the quarterback situation this offseason and make a case that it was the ideal use of resources. That’s why they are the butt of the joke following the NFL Draft, but hey, at least they are being talked about again.

Photo: David Buono/Icon Sportswire

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