Ex-NFL GM questions where 'adult supervision' was in Falcons' decision to draft Michael Penix Jr.

The conversation about the Atlanta Falcons’ questionable decision to draft a quarterback with the No. 8 overall pick in the draft last week after signing Kirk Cousins in the offseason is still ongoing.

And one former NFL general manager believes it’s far from the “Green Bay model.” 

Former Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was taken in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. The immediate reaction was shock because the Falcons had seemingly already found their man in Cousins, signing him to a four-year, $180 million deal just a month before. 

Kirk Cousins sidelined

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins during the second half of a game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit Jan. 7, 2024.  (Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“I’d love to know what the conversations were in Atlanta leading up to that and why there was no adult supervision,” a former GM told The Athletic in an article published Thursday. 


“Truth be told, they could be good next year with Kirk Cousins, come away with the 25th or 26th pick, and then you take a quarterback in that range. That is what Green Bay did with Jordan Love, and it is fundamentally different from what Atlanta just did.”

In a press conference that followed the first night of the draft, general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Raheem Morris defended the decision. 

“Kirk is our quarterback, but adding Michael Penix is thinking about the future,” Fontenot said. 

Michael Penix at Falcons presser

Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick Michael Penix Jr. talks to the media at a press conference introducing him at the Falcons’ training complex.  (Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports)


Fontenot and Morris also referenced “the Green Bay model,” referring to what the Packers did when drafting Jordan Love to back up Aaron Rodgers in the 2020 NFL Draft. Fontenot suggested it could be years before Penix takes over. 

“If you believe in a quarterback, you have to take him,” Fontenot said. “And if he sits for four or five years, that’s a great problem to have, because we’re doing so well at that position. So, it’s as simple as, if you see a guy that you believe in at that position, you have to take him.”

But some NFL executives believe that thinking is flawed. 

Kirk Cousins speaks to the media

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins speaks during a news conference March 13, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga.  (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)


“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,” one exec told the outlet. 

“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 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.”

Cousins was reportedly frustrated by the draft, hoping the team would make picks to address immediate needs. 

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