American Football

Report: Falcons out in force for private workout with Michael Penix


NFL Combine
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The soon-to-be-rookie quarterback may well be the team’s long-term option of choice.

The Atlanta Falcons have their quarterback of the present in Kirk Cousins, a high-end veteran the team signed to a massive four year deal earlier this spring. For at least the next couple of seasons, Cousins is going to be expected to provide the kind of decidedly above average-to-great quarterback play that will help propel the Falcons to the playoffs and beyond after a six year drought with zero postseason appearances.

What happens after that, though, and who steps in if Cousins gets hurt? The short-term answer to the second question appears to be Taylor Heinicke, but that’s likely to be little more than a one-year solution. The Falcons can—and as I have argued repeatedly, should—think beyond that and try to secure a player who might be able to learn from Cousins now, step in for him if need be, and eventually take over for him in 2026 or even 2027 when the team and Cousins are ready to part.

The Falcons have all but declared they intend to get a third quarterback, and as of yet, there have been no signings. That would leave the draft for a long-term developmental option, and that is the route I suspect the Falcons will take. If so, it appears that Michael Penix is a name to watch.

That’s because we knew the Falcons had a top 30 visit with the Washington quarterback, and now NFL insider Albert Breet is reporting that Raheem Morris, Terry Fontenot, and a large contingent of Falcons staff are heading to Seattle to put him through a private workout.

The note about the eighth pick from Breer is likely to set off alarm bells, but I don’t think Penix is seriously in play at that selection for Atlanta. Instead, he’d be an option if he slipped to the draft’s second day or if the team elected to move down from No. 8 or up from their second round pick, something they’re equipped to do thanks to the extra third rounder they picked up in the Calvin Ridley trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars. If they’re intrigued by Penix as a potential long-term option, and with teams like the Giants, Broncos, and Vikings showing seemingly serious interest, chances are good they’ll have to snag him in the first couple rounds.

It’s not hard to understand why the Falcons might like Penix. Offensive coordinator Zac Robinson and this offense showed a clear preference for a proven pocket passer when the team went out and signed Cousins, and that’s what Penix is. He’s a bit old for a rookie at 24 and has an injury history from his days at Indiana that will likely give teams pause, and the big arm and impeccable touch on his throws does come and go. For all that, he’s a really good passer, one who escapes pressure effectively, can and does deliver on-time and on-target passes all over the field, and would likely thrive with the kind of receiving options the Falcons will have on hand for him to work with. Perhaps Penix has a five-to-ten year career in the right situation rather than a 15 year one, given his age and injury history, but I have little doubt that he can give an NFL team high-end quarterbacking for several seasons.

If the Falcons believe that after scrutinizing Penix’s college career and putting him through the necessary workouts and interviews, he feels like a legitimate possibility in the draft. I’ve written before that Cousins’ contract is effectively a 2-to-3 year pact, and drafting a player like Penix who could step in and start with a reasonable contract for a year or two while the Falcons dig out from the dead money involved with moving on from the veteran feels like a good way to try to achieve needed stability at the most important position on the roster. It’s not just that the Falcons haven’t had quality quarterback play the past couple of years; it’s that the last time they had two good quarterbacks on the roster at the same time was Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub, and both were on the wrong side of 30 at that point.

We’ll see whether this apparent interest in Penix translates to the young quarterback actually becoming a Falcon, but it does feel like a legitimate possibility. Let us know what you think of that possibility in the comments.

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