Falcons NFL Free Agency Wish List: Quarterbacks

NFL: OCT 15 Lions at Buccaneers

The NFL Combine is underway in Indianapolis, as teams get an up-close look at this year’s NFL draft prospects. But before the Bears are on the clock with the #1 overall pick, assuming they don’t trade it for a second consecutive year, NFL free agency will take place in just a couple of weeks.

The Falcons currently have nearly $50 million in cap space after parting ways with Jonnu Smith, and they can open up plenty of more space with other cuts and contract restructures. For the second consecutive offseason, no free agent will be too expensive for the Falcons, which means everything is on the table.

So, welcome to my free agency wish list series for the Falcons. I’ll be going position by position, highlighting my top targets at positions of need in Atlanta. Which is really just about everything, but why not begin with the position that has plagued the Falcons over the last several years?

1. Baker Mayfield

Most would have Kirk Cousins sitting atop the list of free agent quarterbacks, but I’m not most people, and this is my list. Mayfield is coming off the best season of his career, tossing for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns after signing a one-year, prove-it contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s still only 29-years-old, so there’s a chance he could actually be a long-term answer at the position for the Falcons, unlike Kirk Cousins. Plus, he’s not coming off a torn Achilles and will cost considerably less than Cousins.

I’ve also been incredibly impressed by Mayfield’s growth in the maturity department. He’s a gamer who quickly earned the respect of the Buccaneers locker room, helping them to a division title and a playoff win over the Eagles. Beyond that, Mayfield is an ideal fit for Zac Robinson’s offense, and the two even spent some time together in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. This is no slight to Kirk Cousins, who I really like and will discuss next, but I think Mayfield is a far better option if the Falcons go the free agency route.

2. Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins haters are just that, haters, because they clearly don’t know what they are watching. Cousins has been good for a really long time, but he seems to be aging like a fine wine. He was playing the best ball of his career before a torn Achilles struck and ended his season last year, on pace for about 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. Yes, Captain Kirk was absolutely slinging it.

Like Mayfield, Cousins is a perfect fit for Zac Robinson’s offense, which is why many expected him to team back up with Kyle Shanahan after the two spent time together early in his career with Washington. From a pure talent standpoint, Cousins is the best quarterback in this free agent class, but I just can’t get over the fact that he’s going to be 36-years-old next year and coming off one of the most devastating injuries in the sport. There’s only one Tom Brady. Father Time catches up to every player, and when that happens, it usually gets ugly quickly.

Cousins has received fully guaranteed contracts two times, and I imagine he will be looking to do the same this time around. A multi-year deal for him at $40 million AAV fully guaranteed isn’t as enticing to me as it may be to others.

3. Russell Wilson

After Russell Wilson, there are no other quarterbacks even worth mentioning, and Wilson only makes this list because of his contract situation. The Broncos already owe him $39 million next year. Whatever Wilson signs for this offseason will subtract from that number, so if the nine-time Pro Bowler wants to stick it to Denver after everything that transpired last offseason, he’ll sign a deal for the veteran minimum.

Wilson has a quirky personality that rubs a lot of people the wrong way. That might mean the Falcons won’t even consider him as an option, but as a last resort, the Falcons could build a damn good roster around him if he signs a one-year contract for the veteran minimum.

Photographer: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire


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