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Falcons brass defend draft night shocker, mum on Kirk Cousins reaction

Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Raheem Morris had a lot of explaining to do after the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night. 

Responsible for the biggest shocker of the evening, the Falcons drafted former Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 pick, a decision that came just a little over a month after veteran signal caller Kirk Cousins was signed to a four-year, $180 million deal. 

To make matters worse, the former Minnesota Vikings star was also in the dark about the Falcons’ plans until Atlanta was already on the clock. 

Cousins’ agent, Mike McCartney, told ESPN immediately after that Cousins was informed about plans to draft Penix only at that moment and that there’s a feeling of frustration that the first-round pick wasn’t used to improve the roster for the season ahead. 

Fontenot and Morris appeared to go into damage control in their press conference reporters.  

“You don’t pass up that opportunity,” Fontenot said, calling Penix a “high-caliber” player.  

“Kirk Cousins is our quarterback, we’re very excited about Kirk, very excited about this team, and Michael Penix is – we’re talking about the future,” he continued, before reiterating the Falcons’ support of Cousins. 

Kirk Cousins speaks to the media


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

Fontenot and Morris continued to field questions about their pick, but when asked about the reports of Cousins’ apparent dismay, the pair remained tight-lipped. 

“We wouldn’t share that,” Fontenot said.  

“Reactions are pretty private,” Morris added. “There’s never a right time to talk to a quarterback about those things, and reactions are always going to be private when it comes to those things, unless Kirk decides to tell you some of those things, or whatever the case may be. But he’s a competitor, just like us all, and you can always expect those things to go just like you kind of think.” 

Raheem Morris speaks to the media

Fontenot and Morris 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 that 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.”

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