Ranking Atlanta Falcons’ 2024 QB options: Draft, Free Agency, Trades

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 07 Syracuse at North Carolina

The Falcons are going to be in the market for a new quarterback this offseason.

Every single head coaching candidate the club interviewed had a similar sentiment to give about the quarterback situation. Arthur Blank said there wasn’t a single candidate he spoke to that didn’t define it as “something that needs work.”

“It’s very clear to everybody — all of our fans, all of you, anybody throughout the NFL — is that this is a position that we need to figure out how we’re going to get better in 2024 and beyond that as well, whether that be trades, free agency, the draft, whatever it may be,” Blank said. 

So, in a sort of a dead period with free agency about a month away, I’m going to rank my preference of Falcons 2024 options. For argument’s sake, let’s assume the Bears are drafting Caleb Williams, who is the overwhelming favorite to go first overall.

1. Trade up, draft Drake Maye

The wishlist goes from least attainable to most attainable. Trading up to the second or third pick to draft Maye isn’t likely to be an option, but I don’t care. This is my world.

Drake Maye is firmly the second-best quarterback prospect in this draft, and you could probably convince me he’s the best. The North Carolina product regularly completed some of the most ridiculous passes I’ve ever seen. Everyone likes to compare Caleb Williams to Mahomes when, in fact, Maye has displayed more qualities.

The Falcons trading three first-rounders, a player, and then some should be considered pennies for a franchise quarterback. Maye is that good.

2. Trade up, draft Jayden Daniels

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Jayden Daniels, is the most electric athlete to come out of college since Lamar Jackson, except his throwing ability is far more developed than the two-time MVP.

Daniels led the most prolific offense in the country en route to a slew of awards and honors. He and Maye are likely going second and third overall, but if for some reason the Commanders or Patriots get cold feet, the Falcons should move mountains to grab either one of them.

The Arizona State transfer possesses elite running ability but also displayed the best deep ball in the class over the 2023 campaign. Yes, better than Maye and Williams.

Daniels has things to work on but would be a home run selection for Arthur Blank, the city of Atlanta, Raheem Morris, Terry Fontenot, and the franchise as a whole.

3. Draft J.J. McCarthy at No. 8, Sign Kirk Cousins

Hear me out before you start calling J.J. McCarthy Desmond Ridder 2.0, Mitch Trubisky, or whatever else.

McCarthy didn’t showcase his skill set at Michigan due to the offense he ran. The Wolverines ran the ball the entire second half against Penn State because the Nittany Lions couldn’t stop the ground game, not because McCarthy can’t throw.

What he did show are transferrable skills that a team is going to believe they can develop. He’s 21-years-old, a winner, and has off-the-chart intangibles. McCarthy would also be a seamless fit for Zac Robinson’s offense; however, starting him as a rookie might not be the wisest choice in his development.

That’s where Kirk Cousins comes into play. Signing the veteran in free agency to a fully guaranteed deal worth around $80 million over two years to compete in 2024 and 2025 while letting the future (McCarthy) develop behind one of the most underrated quarterbacks of this generation.

In terms of realistic options, #3 is my favorite because it’s unlikely the Falcons will be able to trade up for Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye. With this scenario, the Falcons are competing right away under Raheem Morris while also investing in the long term.

4. Sign Kirk Cousins

Let’s just say double dipping in the quarterback market isn’t a preference for the Falcons. I want to compete in 2024 if I’m Arthur Blank, and Kirk Cousins is easily the best option that is readily available.

He’s a veteran capable of running Zac Robinson’s offense and would make the Falcons favorites to win the NFC South. If I had to choose between signing Cousins in free agency or drafting McCarthy, I’d prefer the former.

5. Draft J.J. McCarthy

The latter isn’t anything to scoff at, though. McCarthy is a gamer and has a lot to like about his skill set. The Falcons should prefer to invest in the long-term more than prioritizing the short-term, but I don’t think you could go wrong with either McCarthy or Cousins if that’s what the Falcons are deciding between. As I stated earlier, acquiring both would be ideal.

6. Trade for Justin Fields

The intrigue with a Justin Fields trade is the poor circumstances he’s been in with the Bears. Chicago has had several offensive coordinators during Fields’ tenure, which is terrible for a quarterback’s development. Moreover, until last season, the Bears’ weapons and offensive line were pathetic. Fields never stood a chance.

In Atlanta, the hope is basically that the Falcons’ skill group, offensive line, and offensive coordinator can help him realize his full potential. However, on the other side of things, denying his lack of development is asinine. It’s concerning. In addition, are we sure Fields is a fit in Zac Robinson’s scheme?

His contract and trade compensation are other things to consider. Will the Falcons pick up his fifth-year option? Are they willing to part ways with a second-round pick?

The upside with Fields is undeniable, and Robinson should be able to tailor his offense to his skill set, but there are better options out there.

Photographer: David Jensen/Icon Sportswire


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