Nick Wright First Things First Atlanta Falcons Screengrab: FS1’s ‘First Things First’

There have been many takes about the Atlanta Falcons’ handling of the 2024 NFL Draft and the decision to draft Michael Penix Jr. despite already having Kirk Cousins on the roster.

Many of those headlines in sports media have seen personalities aim for the organization’s decision-making, but few—if any—have looked into why the Falcons did what they did. And FS1’s Nick Wright had an interesting way of unpacking Atlanta’s quarterback conundrum during First Things First on Friday.

“Kevin Clark, who I think is one of the best people covering the league, has said for years that one of his favorite NFL truisms is that not every team is actually trying to win the Super Bowl,” said Wright. “And that was my takeaway from this. The Falcons are not trying to win the Super Bowl. They’re trying to avoid being awful. This is the ultimate hedge against bottoming out. If you’re trying to win the Super Bowl going into this offseason as Atlanta, you have path one — sign Kirk Cousins, maybe borrow a bit from the future; certainly use your top 10 draft pick on what you hope is an instant impact player…A lot of us projected that at eight, you would have your pick of any defensive player. That’s how I had it in every mock draft. That’s how it fell, also. That’s a path.

“Another path is, you know what? We love Michael Penix Jr. and we know he’s a rookie, but luckily, he’s the age of most guys who are on their second contract; he has the experience of that. So, we are going to go the way a lot of teams have gone, which is: young quarterback, save that $100 million, and bolster the team that way. Instead, they went path three — the ultimate hedge against either decision being a disaster. It is the ultimate hedge against ever having to deal with a Desmond Ridder situation again. Which is fine if your goal is to win a bad division, maybe win a playoff game, and stay in the mix.”

Wright told his FS1 cohorts that they could get into the pros and cons of both Penix and Cousins as quarterback options. But, at the same time, there’s a crucial point to consider. With an abundance of time to assess the salary cap, free agency landscape, and final draft positions for all quarterbacks, a clear strategy should have been formed. That strategy would’ve ideally involved identifying whether the Falcons would be the biggest spenders in free agency or take the biggest leap in the quarterback draft.

They did both.

“Those are in contradiction,” Wright continued. “Yeah, I mean, it was shocking because the Falcons told me they value not being awful more than they value a chance at being great. Which, if I’m a Falcons fan, (is) a bummer.”

Ultimately, the upcoming season will provide further insight into the Falcons’ strategy and whether it prioritizes avoiding disaster over pursuing glory.

[First Things First on X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.