NFL executives ridicule Falcons for drafting Michael Penix

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The Falcons shocked their fan base, Kirk Cousins, and just about everyone watching the NFL Draft when they took Michael Penix with their top pick.

The reasoning is simple from Terry Fontenot and Raheem Morris’ viewpoint. Atlanta expects to compete in the postseason with Cousins and won’t be in a position to land a talent like Penix in the future.

Scared from the post-Matt Ryan circus of quarterbacks, the Falcons chose to solidify the most important position in sports. There’s a world where it works out perfectly, but it’s a narrow path with no margin for error.

Some Falcons fans and national pundits have come around, mainly due to Penix the prospect, but they still haven’t fully accepted the process. Frankly, the outrage has nothing to do with the Heisman runner-up as a player.

It sucks for Michael Penix. This should be the greatest moment of his life, but he’s found himself in a shitstorm. This is who the Falcons are, and Fontenot’s peers are unanimously puzzled by his decision, just like the fans.

Mike Sando of The Athletic touched base with a ton of NFL executives, getting their reactions to different draft classes, and Atlanta’s were overwhelmingly negative.

“How you could go through free agency and think to yourself, ‘Penix is our guy, but let’s give $100 million to Kirk Cousins just in case Penix doesn’t fall to us at 8’?” an exec said. “Come on, man.”

This is what a lot of Falcons fans are asking. Michael Penix isn’t the problem. The problem is allocating $180 million to Cousins and then using your most valuable draft pick on a player who can’t contribute. It comes off as disorganized, as if the Falcons are just making it up as they go along.

“People say they can get out of Kirk’s deal after two years, which is basically saying, ‘Well, we expect him to fail, so we can get rid of the contract after ’25, but you don’t get to think that way when you’re putting $100 million into Kirk Cousins,” another exec added.

This is certainly what Kirk Cousins has to be thinking, right? Obviously, he’s a pro’s pro. He will go out and do the job to the best of his ability, including being a great teammate to his eventual successor.

However, it’s hard to see a world where he plays out the entirety of his contract in Atlanta, which begs the question, “Why?”

“What if you are in minicamp and Cousins isn’t even taking snaps and you are like, ‘Oh my God, let’s go with Michael Penix,’” another exec said. “Because remember, moving Cousins is much more difficult than it would be to move Penix. You could be stuck with Cousins when you know Penix is the guy.”

This is already a talking point. According to a source, Dan Patrick says that Penix will get first-team reps during offseason training activities. If there’s one thing we know about the Southpaw, he thrives in a pro-day style setting, which is what OTAs are in the NFL. Falcons players will see Penix spin the rock while Cousins rehabs and the drama will begin. It’s going to be a complete dumpster fire if things go wrong.

But what’s most bothersome is the next point made by Sando…

“Other execs noted that current Falcons director of player personnel Ryan Pace was the Bears’ GM in 2017 when the team signed quarterback Mike Glennon to a surprisingly expensive deal six weeks before Chicago traded from No. 3 to No. 2 for quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Glennon earned $18.5 million for four starts. Cousins’ deal guarantees him $90 million over the next two seasons,” Sando said.

I’ve talked about Atlanta’s director of player personnel’s track record. Ryan Pace has had absolutely no success drafting quarterbacks. Not only did he botch the 2017 NFL Draft, but he also selected Justin Fields some years later. Both didn’t make it to second contracts. Granted, he’s only a cog in this dysfunctional machine. The man at the top deserves the lion’s share of the balme.

“Execs tied the Penix decision to other questionable top-10 draft moves under GM Terry Fontenot, led by drafting tight end Kyle Pitts at No. 4 in 2021,” Sando added.

The Falcons are once again the butt of the NFL’s jokes, but there is a scenario, almost like an ‘Endgame’ singularity, where they come out of this laughing at everyone who doubted and criticized them. But right now, everyone’s puzzled.

Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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