Falcons named free agent fit for top two QBs by CBS Sports

NFL: SEP 10 Buccaneers at Vikings

The Falcons have a tall task ahead of them this offseason — fixing the quarterback position.

The solutions may come in free agency, the draft, or even via trade. Notice how I said solutions, as in multiple. Double dipping in the quarterback market is certainly a possibility for the Falcons. The reason for that is the idea of satisfying the team’s long-term and short-term goals.

Let me explain. A rookie taken in the draft isn’t likely to make the Falcons as competitive as possible in 2024. However, a veteran free agent won’t offer the long-term viability the franchise desires at the position.

Essentially, my ideal scenario would be the Falcons drafting a quarterback like Jayden Daniels (unlikely) or J.J. McCarthy (much more likely), who will give the Falcons a potential franchise quarterback in the long term, and pairing one of them with a veteran free agent like Kirk Cousins or Baker Mayfield, who will give the Falcons the best chance to win in 2024 and 2025.

Ironically, Atlanta was named a free agent landing spot for both of those veterans by CBS Sports, which considers Mayfield and Cousins the top two quarterbacks.

2. Baker Mayfield

The former No. 1 overall pick finally worked the QB carousel to his benefit in 2023, parlaying short-lived stops with the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams into a trial run as Tom Brady’s successor with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And while there were hiccups along the way, Mayfield mostly proved he still belongs as a starter, pairing trademark toughness with improved decision-making to post career numbers and earn his first Pro Bowl nod. He certainly profiles more as an overachiever than a difference-maker, but in a league where only a small handful of QBs are truly transcendent, he deserves a hefty raise.

Projected AAV: $25M-$30M | Best team fits: Buccaneers, Falcons, Raiders, Vikings

1. Kirk Cousins

The King of Free-Agent Quarterbacking, Cousins is no stranger to playing the market. While he’s suited up for just two teams in his decade-long career, he’s successfully milked both Washington and Minnesota on the financial front. But here’s the kicker: He’s mostly lived up to the money. While Cousins notoriously lacks a defining big-game resume, he’s been one of the steadiest passers of his time, routinely ranking among the game’s most accurate and efficient while still showcasing an eye for the splash play. His off-script tools are limited, and his Achilles tear at age 35 is another concern. But in a game perpetually starved for consistent, quality QB play, Cousins is as safe a bet as they come. Both he and the Vikings would like to continue their marriage, but both sides also have reason to court other options, making him potentially the most prized veteran of the offseason.

Projected AAV: $35M-$45M | Best team fits: Broncos, Commanders, Falcons, Vikings, Raiders

Kirk Cousins may be coming off a torn Achilles, but he’s by far the best option for a team that has a need and wants to compete in 2024. The Falcons are both of those, so it makes a lot of sense. A $40 million per year deal over a couple of seasons is perfect for a scenario where Cousins could help the team compete immediately while his successor develops behind him.

On the other hand, Mayfield wouldn’t be a terrible consolation prize. Though he’d garner more years than Cousins, Mayfield proved he’s capable of leading a team to the postseason following a season in which he led the Bucs to the divisional round after a wild card win over the Eagles.

Both would be great free agent signings for the Falcons.

Photographer: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire

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