Analyzing Kirk Cousins’ Impact: How His Arrival Amplifies Falcons’ Playoff Aspirations

March 18th, 2024

By signing Kirk Cousins to a four-year contract on Monday, the Atlanta Falcons added a proven starting quarterback to their offensive arsenal. Mike McCartney, Cousins' agent, took to social media on Monday to announce the signing. According to ESPN, the agreement is reportedly for $180 million, including a guaranteed sum of $100 million.

For a long time, the Falcons have stocked up on offensive talent, including three first-round draft picks—Drake London, running back Bijan Robinson, and tight end Kyle Pitts. However, since Matt Ryan departed after the 2021 season, they have failed to locate a suitable successor.

Although Cousins is among the top quarterbacks in the NFL, he is 35 years old and had a season-ending tear in his Achilles midway through last season. While Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke had a rough go of it for the Falcons, Kirk Cousins had the third-best passer rating in the league in the eight games the Vikings played before his injury. The quarterback room for the Atlanta Falcons was deemed "deficient" by owner Arthur Blank last season, a sentiment shared by few fans.

Cousins, the prototypical late bloomer, has had some of his best games since the Vikings brought in coach Kevin O'Connell in 2022.

Even though the Vikings wanted to keep Cousins around for a long time, they had to be realistic about how much they could promise due to their salary cap and their rivals in the NFC North, who have been making strides recently and looking good.

Cousins expressed his desire to end his career in Minnesota, but he also needed more than just a one-year contract to feel appreciated.

From being overlooked as a college recruit to being selected in the fourth round and now having for almost 40,000 yards for his career, Cousins has been the epitome of an overachiever on the field. Under McCartney's tutelage, he has also become an expert in the game's business aspects.

Atlanta Falcons at the Bookmakers

The outcome of the Cousins’ signing is that the Falcons' chances of winning the Super Bowl have been reduced from +5000 to +3000. On the other hand, the Vikings are now +7500 from +4000 in the championship odds. Not to forget, the SB odds on the Falcons do not include the use of promotional codes at ESPN Bet. So, technically, there’s room for even greater prices when approached wisely.

Cousins was clearly the most prominent individual on the list. He was a strong contender for the NFL MVP title last season until he sustained a career-ending injury.

Building His Postseason Legacy in Atlanta

Of course, the most frequently asked question now is how Cousins can assist the Falcons in their playoff aspirations.

Adding Cousins to the Falcons' offense—which finished the season ranked 27th in quarterback rating and 22nd in passing yards—should greatly improve their chances of breaking a six-year postseason drought. Cousins can help the Falcons' offense make the most of its three first-round choices in a row: Pitts, receiver Drake London, and running back Bijan Robinson.

With a wager of at least $100 million, the Atlanta Falcons are certainly making a huge gamble on him as the quarterback who can guide this troubled team to its first Super Bowl victory.

Theoretically, Cousins should feel at home in the Falcons' offense under Kevin O'Connell, who coached the Vikings in 2020–21. Zac Robinson, who just joined the Falcons as offensive coordinator, was an assistant with the Rams from 2019–23 when the two of them overlapped. Many have noted that there is already a family presence in the region since Julie, Cousins' wife, is from the Atlanta suburbs, and her parents still reside there.

Although there is a danger in investing much in a 35-year-old who has just had a serious injury, his Achilles tendon surgery seems to have gone well. This past week, he shared a video of himself doing an indoor exercise, and back in January, he described his rehabilitation as "a positive experience," expressing hope that he would be fully ready for the next season.

In his postseason career, Cousins has a paltry 1-3 record. He guided the Vikings to a 13-4 record in 2022, but they were upset by the Giants in their playoff-opening. Regardless of the Falcons' postseason record, Cousins can at least restore their chances of becoming playoff contenders.

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