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Agent: Cousins surprised by Falcons drafting fellow quarterback Penix

Kirk Cousins’ agent Mike McCartney said the quarterback was surprised to see the Atlanta Falcons take Michael Penix Jr. at number eight in the 2024 NFL Draft, with his client not given a heads-up about the pick.

Atlanta stunned the league on Thursday by selecting Washington quarterback Penix just one month on from signing former Minnesota Vikings star Cousins to a four-year, $180million deal.

Penix was a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy last year, leading Washington to a 14-1 season and an appearance in the national championship game, where they lost 34-13 to Michigan.

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Speaking to ESPN after the surprise pick was made, McCartney said Cousins was not warned about Atlanta’s desire to draft his successor before he had even represented the team.

“It was a big surprise. We had no idea this was coming,” he said. “The truth is the whole league had no idea this was coming.

“We got no heads-up. Kirk got a call from the Falcons when they were on the clock. That was the first we heard, it never came up in any conversation.”

McCartney also added Cousins was frustrated to see the Falcons opt against short-term strengthening with such a high pick, but said his client understood the business side of the decision.

Atlanta general manager Terry Fontenot said the decision was taken with the aim of keeping the Falcons competitive when Cousins, who will be 36 by the start of the 2024 season, slows down.

“These are not easy decisions. These are tough decisions,” Fontenot said. “But we’re thinking about the fans. We’re thinking about this organization.

“We’re going to build a sustained winner. We’re going to win for a long time. That’s the most important position in football.

“This is a business, right? The tough part is obviously you’re not going to always please everybody. We have to think about what’s best for this franchise, what’s best for this team.”

Penix was also surprised to get the call from Atlanta, but the 23-year-old is determined to make the most of his opportunity to work with Cousins, who saw his 2023 season ended by an Achilles tear.

“He’s been in the league,” Penix said of his new team-mate. “He’s been in there for a while.

“He’s played a lot of football. I feel like I’m going to come in and I’m going to learn. I’m going to learn from him.”

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