May 25, 2024

It’s unclear whether the Las Vegas Raiders intended to take quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 13 choice in the 2024 NFL Draft, and it will never be known for certain because the Atlanta Falcons chose him at No. 8. This was the draft’s biggest surprise, considering the franchise paid $180 million to sign Kirk Cousins in free agency.

Penix is already 24 years old, and sitting him for the entirety of Cousins’ four-year contract makes no sense. The quarterback’s stay in Atlanta could be shorter than planned, possibly only one season. If that’s the case, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell named the Raiders as one of the clubs that could explore signing him next summer.

“The other potential landing spots appear to be with the Raiders, Steelers and Titans, none of whom have a settled quarterback of the future,” Barnwell wrote in his column on May 8. “The Giants, Jets, Saints, Seahawks, and even the Dolphins could be looking for a veteran starter.” If Cousins performs well in 2024 and both he and the Falcons want to split, there will be a market for him the following year. Next time, Cousins might just try to persuade his new organization to pledge not to pick a quarterback shortly after acquiring him.”

The Raiders did not choose a quarterback, so the need at the position is likely to persist until Garnder Minshew or Aidan O’Connell make a significant improvement in 2024.

Will Kirk Cousins Want out of Atlanta so Quickly?

Cousins will put on a brave face this season, but he is unlikely to be delighted that the Falcons spent such a high draft pick on his replacement rather than trying to improve the squad. It’s understandable if the Falcons chose 21-year-old J.J. McCarthy, who can wait for a few years and still be young when he takes over as starter.

Penix is substantially older, which puts some pressure on Cousins. According to ESPN, the quarterback’s camp was not pleased with Atlanta’s performance.

“Cousins’ agent, Mike McCartney, told ESPN’s Pete Thamel that the Falcons did not tell the quarterback they would pick Penix until the team was on the clock,” Marc Raimondi wrote in his April 25 column. “McCartney said there is frustration and confusion coming from Cousins’ camp because Atlanta did not use its first-round pick to make the team better in 2024.”

Cousins isn’t going to want to be anyone’s backup, so if there’s talk of replacing him with Penix by Year 2, he’ll likely look into other options.

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Cousins will be 37 when the 2025 season begins, and it remains to be seen how he will play after a torn Achilles. The Raiders would have little reason to add the quarterback. It will most likely require a trade to add him, and he has a massive deal.

The Raiders are more likely to want to keep the position youthful. Cousins was a free agent this offseason, and the team did not appear to be interested in him. This is unlikely to alter after he turns a year older.

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