Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Kirk Cousins NFL Free Agency - via Atlanta Falcons
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Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Grades: High Marks from CBS

The Atlanta Falcons battled out of cap hell in 2021 and 2022 to make a splash in free agency once they emerged.

General manager Terry Fontenot hit a home run in free agency last year. Nearly all of his acquisitions were net positives for the team. Jessie Bates was first-team All-Pro. Kaden Elliss and David Onyemata were key starters and even Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree were upgrades.

There wasn’t as much quantity in 2024, but the Falcons signed Kirk Cousins to shore up the games most important position on a contract that is relatively speaking… team friendly.

For adding what looks to be the missing piece to their offense, CBS Sports gave the Falcons an ‘A’ for their work in free agency.

“The Atlanta Falcons now have a complete offense,” wrote Garrett Podell on CBS Sports. “An explosive young running back (Bijan Robinson, the eighth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft whose 1,463 scrimmage yards were the most by a rookie in team history), two incredibly athletically-gifted pass-catchers (2021 fourth overall draft pick tight end Kyle Pitts and 2022 eighth overall draft pick wide receiver Drake London) and a strong offensive line (quarterback pressure rate allowed of 31.1% last year, fifth in the NFL, led by PFF’s highest-graded guard Chris Lindstrom, 89.7 PFF offensive grade).

“Kirk Cousins (four years, $180 million; $100 million guaranteed) is the distributor of the football this squad has sorely lacked. The Falcons also filled their third pass-catcher slot with former Chicago Darnell Mooney via a three-year, $39 million pact and added depth with the addition of Moore. He’ll have a chance to reignite his career at age 27 in 2024 after being trapped in a run-first offense.”

For the most part, the Falcons offense does look complete. If wide receivers Rome Odunze or Malik Nabors fall to the Falcons at No. 8 in the draft, they would consider another pass catcher.

However, the Falcons have holes on the defensive side of the ball to address. Edge rusher has been a sore spot in Atlanta for much of the Falcons’ existence as a franchise. Alabama’s Dallas Turner and/or FSU’s Jared Verse should be available.

Cornerback opposite A.J. Terrell is a definite need. Second-year player Clark Phillips showed flashes as a rookie, but he is probably better off as a nickel.

The Falcons can and should save $3.2 million for moving on from safety Richie Grant. Grant has been a disappointment since being selected in the second round of the 2021 draft.  

Demarco Hellams got time last season, but the Falcons need to prioritize finding running mates for Terrell and Bates in the offseason.

Kirk Cousins was the No. 1 free agent by ESPN and No. 2 on Pro Football Focus. The Falcons got him for salary cap hits of $25 million and $40 million in 2025. Neither of those numbers will put him in the top-ten for quarterback salary-cap charges.

On paper, this was an excellent move by Fontenot and the Atlanta Falcons. We’ll see how it plays out on the field in September.

Scott Kennedy
Scott Kennedy is an Atlanta native and 20 year media veteran including time as Director of Scouting at Scout.com, Managing Editor at 247Sports, VP Content Operations at Sports Illustrated and more. Scott has appeared as a recruiting and NFL Draft analyst on dozens of media including ESPN, NFL Network, USA Today, NY Times, and more.
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