Kirk Cousins Breaks Silence on Falcons’ Stunning Michael Penix Jr. Selection: ‘Anything Can Happen’

Kirk Cousins finally cleared the air regarding the Atlanta Falcons' surprising selection of Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick.

After Kirk Cousins inked a $180 million contract in free agency, the Atlanta Falcons shocked the NFL world with their selection of QB Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Reports came out after the draft that Cousins and his camp were frustrated and confused by the pick, but the Falcons’ starting quarterback finally cleared the air publicly on a podcast appearance.

Kirk Cousins Addresses the Falcons Drafting Michael Penix Jr.

Former NFL linebacker and co-host of “Bussin With the Boys,” Will Compton, dove into the articles printing about that draft night.

Cousins, though, revealed that even with his wealthy contract, he’s a “steward” when it comes to the Falcons’ personnel decisions, especially involving draft picks like Penix.

“I think you’re reminded again that there are things you control, and there’s a lot of things you don’t control,” Cousins said.

“So let’s deal in reality and recognize that fact, and then be a steward, not an owner. So I just believe that I’ve got to steward what comes my way and control what I can control, which is what a steward does, but a steward doesn’t worry about that which they can’t control.”

“An owner does, an owner would be like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ So I just gotta steward this and just kind of do what I’ve always done as a player and let the chips fall where they may.”

Cousins then reminded the show that the Minnesota Vikings placed him in a similar situation where the franchise was adding to the QB room.

“Vikings, three years ago, I was finishing up a round of golf before the draft on Thursday, and I’m on like the 18th hole, walking up the fairway, and Klint Kubiak calls me, our OC,” Cousins recalled.

“And he says, ‘Just wanna give you a heads up, we may draft a quarterback tonight.’ I said, ‘OK.'”

Kellen Mond emerged as the 66th overall pick in the third round by Minnesota in 2021. Cousins even shared how, back in high school, he had signed with Michigan State, but toward the end of the signing period, the Spartans added another high-caliber recruit named Nick Foles.

Cousins’ final message regarding the pick was reminding that “anything” can happen in the league.

“So I understood that, for a while, teams are always thinking about succession plans or always thinking about that. They didn’t end up drafting one that year, but you’re aware that this is a possible direction it could go. My point is this isn’t like a foreign concept. There’s an awareness that this is the NFL, anything can happen,” Cousins said.

On Tuesday when speaking to reporters after practice, Cousins was asked if he would have signed with Atlanta if he knew they would be drafting a quarterback with the No. 8 pick.

“I don’t deal in hypotheticals,” Cousins said.

Cousins’ Contract Details

As mentioned, at the start of free agency, Cousins signed a four-year, $180 million contract with the Falcons. Here are more details on the contract:

  • $180 million ($45 million per year)
  • $50 million signing bonus
  • $100 million in guarantees
  • $90 million for 2024 and 2025, fully guaranteed
  • $10 million for 2026 becomes fully guaranteed in March 2025

Now that the Falcons have drafted Cousins’ successor before he even played a snap for them, many people are left wondering when Atlanta can get out of his contract.

From a salary cap standpoint, if the Falcons want to move on from Cousins after the season, they would be best suited to trade him with a post-June 1 designation. Then, the dead money cap charges would come out to just $12.5 million annually for the remaining years of Cousins’ deal, according to Over the Cap.

One potential hiccup in sending Cousins to another team after this season, however, is that he has a no-trade clause, meaning he can veto any potential deal. If Cousins were to reject any trade offers in hopes of hitting the open market to sign with a team of his choosing, then it would get far more complicated for Atlanta.

Yet, if the Falcons have a disappointing season with Cousins and are determined to make Penix their starter for 2025, then it seems less likely that he would handcuff the team with his no-trade clause.

Why Did Atlanta Draft Michael Penix Jr.?

Even after the Cousins signing, many NFL fans scratched their heads at how Atlanta took Penix as its first selection.

PFN’s own Dallas Robinson wrote how barring an absolute collapse, Cousins should be the lock at QB1 for two years, making the Penix selection “a mistake.”

“Even if the Falcons were in love with Penix’s talent, there was simply too much opportunity cost here for Atlanta to select him this high,” Robinson wrote.

However, Cousins does have an injury history — including missing the final nine games last season with a torn Achilles. In addition to his Week 8 injury against the Green Bay Packers, Cousins has also dealt with two ankle ailments, one tracing back to his MSU days.

Potentially, the decision to draft Penix that high alleviates the concern of not having a strong backup plan. Yet, Penix himself has had his own history of ACL tears (two during his collegiate career at Indiana before transferring to Washington).

Again, many took the Penix selection as a possible rift between Cousins and him. However, Cousins said there’s no “beef” inside the Falcons’ facility.

“No I don’t think there can be, I don’t think it’s helpful,” Cousins said. “Like, we’re trying to win a Super Bowl, and it’s hard enough. So let’s all be on the same page and let’s try to go win a Super Bowl.”

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