Falcons HC Raheem Morris addresses QB situation after curious draft pick

One of the draft’s biggest surprises came on Friday night when the Falcons used their top selection on quarterback Michael Penix Jr. That move came about despite Kirk Cousins being on the books for the next four years (including fully guaranteed salaries in 2024 and ’25).

Cousins will, of course, enter the coming season atop Atlanta’s depth chart. The presence of a successor in the form of Penix could nevertheless invite questions about a change in the pecking order in the event of poor performance on the part of the former. Cousins — who was stunned by the Penix selection — was the top free-agent passer in this year’s class despite his age (35) and the fact his 2023 season was cut short by an Achilles tear.

A slow start in 2024 or further missed time brought about by a new injury could lead to calls for Penix to see the field. The Washington product dealt with plenty of health-related issues of his own in college, but his stock rose during the predraft process to the point where he was expected to hear his name called in the first round. Still, Atlanta was not thought to be a serious suitor for Penix. Owner Arthur Blank reportedly played a central role in the decision to select him.

Raheem Morris is back in place as the Falcons’ head coach after an interim stint with the team in 2020, and he will be tasked with overseeing the transition to Cousins under center. When speaking to the media following the arrival of Penix, Morris made it clear there is not a QB controversy entering the 2024 season.

“We came up with a decision, this is what we plan to do,” Morris said, via ESPN’s Marc Raimondi. “And Kirk does not have to look over his shoulder every time he throws a bad pass. Like, that is not the case. So I know I’m going to have to tell you guys once or twice that that is not the case. Like, we are here to go win, and we are here to go win it all. We are here to win as much as we can win.”

Indeed, expectations will be high for Atlanta’s offense after the team struggled to find a suitable Matt Ryan replacement. Cousins will provide a high floor for the unit, but plenty of attention will be on Penix as the Falcons’ intended starter down the road. If Morris’ stance holds true through the campaign (and likely the 2025 season as well), however, Cousins can be assured of his spot in the QB1 role.

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