The Falcons’ deal to land Kirk Cousins receiving mixed reviews

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons are set to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins.

The move can become official at 4 p.m. Wednesday, on the first day of the NFL’s new business year.

Cousins is set to sign a four-year deal worth up to $180 million, with $100 million guaranteed.

ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky, on the “Get Up” show, said he felt the Falcons made the best move of free agency.

“In addition to Bijan Robinson and good talent defense, if he plays the way he has for the past five seasons, this team has a very high chance to be a playoff-winning football team,” Orlovsky said.

Former Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who was a color analyst for CBS Sports last season, also approved of the move.

“We had a bunch of the NFC South games with our (CBS) crew last year,” Ryan said on FanDuel TV’s “Up and Adams” show. “We saw everybody. Outside of the quarterback play for the Falcons, they were probably the most complete team.”

The Falcons finished 7-10, two games behind the Bucs (9-8) and Saints (9-8) last season.

“I do think you get a veteran quarterback in there, given that group, I think they become the front-runner in the South,” Ryan said before the deal was reached.

The Falcons received a B grade for the deal from by Jeff Diamond, a former general manager of the Vikings and team president of the Tennessee Titans. He was selected NFL’s executive of the year in 1999.

“He dealt with high expectations and scrutiny, but was a consistent quarterback; he had a 101.2 passer rating and a 50-37-1 record in Minnesota,” Diamond wrote. “However, his postseason record is 1-3, including one loss with Washington.

“In 2022, Cousins directed eight fourth-quarter comebacks and led the Vikings to an NFC North title with a 13-4 record, but their season ended with a home playoff loss to the New York Giants when Cousins threw a final-play checkdown short of the first down that stoked fan ire.”

But Cousins and the Falcons could be a good match.

“If he stays healthy, Atlanta will solve its biggest issue,” Diamond wrote. “Cousins gives the Falcons a consistent veteran to provide stability for an offense that was held back by shaky quarterback play last season from Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke. Cousins leaves behind a coach he had great synergy with (Kevin O’Connell) and an outstanding supporting cast led by Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson and Jordan Addison. There’s no Jefferson in Atlanta, but the Falcons have talented skill players to work with.”

He noted that the Falcons do have tight end Kyle Pitts, running back Bijan Robinson and wide receiver Drake London. He also pointed out that the Falcons have one of the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lines.

Locally, former Georgia quarterback Buck Belue shared his thoughts on the Cousins deal on his show on 680 The Fan. In a segment he dubbed “Up in the QB Club” he reviewed two games and shared his strengths and weaknesses for Cousins.

He noted that Cousins has a high football IQ and can process information quickly at the line of scrimmage.

“Makes a lot of good quick decisions,” Belue said. “I love that.”

Belue spotted some more strengths during his film review.

“Pocket passer who’s strength is working the intermediate part of the field,” Belue said. “Does a really good of layering the ball into those open areas, intermediate. He can fit it into some tight spots with velocity when he needs to, intermediate zones. Into those tight windows.”

Cousins’ field vision and ability to see the entire field was intriguing. He’d start on one side of the field and end up throwing on the other side, according to Belue.

“I really love that about Cousins,” Belue said. “He’s quick to check the ball down when he’s under pressure. … He always knows where that check down receiver is.”

Cousins is at his best off the run-action fakes, when he has a clean pocket and can step into his throws, according to Belue.

There are some weaknesses, which include his arm strength.

“It’s good enough,” Belue said. “You’re not going to see him heave the ball 60, 70 yards down the field.”

Mobility was an issue before he sustained a ruptured Achilles in October.

“Has limited mobility in the pocket,” Belue said. “Struggles with the pass rush coming up the middle and has trouble avoiding the sack. He’s not athletic.”

The Falcons’ offensive line is a run-blocking unit that will need to get better in pass protection.

“He’s needs to be well-protected to be effective,” Belue said.

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