FLOWERY BRANCH — If Michael Penix Jr. ends up being a good quarterback for the Falcons someday, then general manager Terry Fontenot will be hailed for his foresight. If Fontenot trades Penix for a good haul later then he’d get credit for that, too. Any other outcome and Fontenot might never live down this pick.

There’s no in-between for Fontenot. He took Washington’s Penix No. 8 overall even though the Falcons just gave Kirk Cousins $100 million to be their quarterback. If everything goes as planned with Cousins, then Penix won’t see the field as a rookie. Fontenot took a huge gamble by spending a high draft pick on a player who isn’t likely to have much value for the Falcons this season and, maybe never.

Penix’s rookie contract will be for four years with a team option for a fifth year. The Falcons essentially are committed to Cousins for three seasons. He’s less than a year removed from Achilles surgery, so Penix provides some insurance as a backup. But the Falcons had their pick of defensive prospects at No. 8 and decided to take a quarterback when they already had one.

Fontenot has used high picks at positions where the team already had good players before. He drafted running back Bijan Robinson No. 8 overall in 2023, wide receiver Drake London at No. 8 in 2022 and tight end Kyle Pitts No. 4 in 2021. But the Falcons didn’t have a running back, wide receiver or tight end as accomplished at their positions then as Cousins is at quarterback now.

It’s a big gamble for Fontenot. He’s done well in three precious drafts. It could turn out he’s a visionary for drafting Penix. Right now he’s looking shortsighted. The Falcons need to win now, and Fontenot’s top draft pick won’t help them do that unless something goes wrong with the $100 million quarterback.

Check ajc.com/sports later for Falcons draft updates.