How Patrick Mahomes impacted Falcons’ Michael Penix draft pick

The biggest surprise of the first round of the NFL Draft a couple weeks ago was the Atlanta Falcons drafting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick. It was a big surprise because the Falcons signed QB Kirk Cousins to a deal this offseason, and also because Penix Jr. wasn’t expected to be the third QB taken. It was a complicated situation, and an instance with Patrick Mahomes apparently impacted what happened.
How Patrick Mahomes impacted Falcons’ Michael Penix draft pick

When Patrick Mahomes was going to the NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints were interested in getting him. When the word got out about their interest, the Kansas City Chiefs jumped in and took him before the Saints could. Terry Fontenot was with the Saints then, and he is now the GM for the Falcons. He apparently didn’t want the word getting out this time about their interest in Michael Penix Jr., and that’s why the pick caught Kirk Cousins off guard.

“Terry Fontenot, the General Manager there was in New Orleans in 2017 when Patrick Mahomes came out, and I’m sure you know Pat, Sean Payton was very very high, as were all the Saints people, on Patrick Mahomes, and they felt like the reason they lost Patrick Mahomes that year was that word of their interest got out and the Chiefs knew it,” Albert Breer said during a recent appearance on The Pat McAfee Show. “In fact, Brett Veech, who is the GM now, was working in the personnel department there then, after they traded with the Bills, texted got him to one of the Saints people. Clearly showing them, we knew you wanted him and we’re coming and stealing him from you. So for the Falcons people, for Terry Fontenot, who had come from the Saints, like if we like one of these quarterbacks, we can’t tell anybody, we gotta sit their at eight, we got to pretend that we’re taking Dallas Turner, or Byron Murphy, or Malik Nabers, or someone else.”

Kirk Cousins was caught off guard

Atlanta Falcons first round draft pick quarterback Michael Penix Jr talks to the media at a press conference introducing him at the Falcons training complex. © Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins was surprised when the Falcons used their first round pick to take Michael Penix Jr. He had just signed with the team and he was expecting to the QB. A big reason why he left the Minnesota Vikings was because they were planning to draft their QB of the future with their first round pick, and they did. Minnesota took JJ McCarthy with the 10th overall pick. The same thing ended up going down in Atlanta.

“They (Vikings) had told him last year ‘you know we may be looking at drafting a quarterback high in 2024, this may be the year to do it, there’s a good class coming, if the opportunity is there we might strike,’ and that all went into the decision not to do an extension during the 2023 off season,” Breer added.

Now, the Falcons have two options in their QB room. Kirk Cousins and Michael Penix Jr. The rookie and the vet. It’ll be interesting to see how that situation shapes out throughout the offseason.

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