Falcons To Make Depth QB Addition; Desmond Ridder Did Not Request Trade

The top of Atlanta’s quarterback depth chart is set with Kirk Cousins in the fold. His addition has relegated Taylor Heinicke to backup duties as things stand, but the latter may not have the QB2 role by the time the 2024 campaign begins.

Heinicke will see competition for the backup gig brought in, head coach Raheem Morris said (via The Athletic’s Josh Kendall). The Atlanta native joined the team last offseason as a veteran insurance policy for Desmond Ridder. Neither passer performed well enough when on the field to justify being named the 2024 starter, however, fueling the aggressive pursuit of Cousins.

Atlanta currently has just $6.3MM in cap space, most of which will be needed to sign the team’s incoming rookie class. As a result, even a one-year deal with a veteran backup option (such as Ryan Tannehill or Carson Wentz) could prove to be too expensive. Next month’s draft will offer the opportunity to add a developmental passer at a lower cost.

To that end, the Falcons are amongst the teams which have a visit lined up with Michael Penix Jr. The 2023 Heisman runner up may not be in Atlanta’s range, though, provided the team uses the No. 8 pick on a position other than quarterback. Still, it comes as little surprise Heinicke will need to beat out a new arrival for the backup job in training camp. The 31-year-old has one year left on his re-worked contract, and a release would create $1.21MM in cap savings along with a $3.32MM dead cap charge.

Not long after the Cousins deal was in place, Ridder was dealt to the Cardinals. That swap – which yielded receiver Rondale Moore in return – allowed the 2022 third-rounder to receive a fresh start after an underwhelming time as a starter with Atlanta. The trade did not come about based on Ridder’s desire to leave, though.

“Desmond is a great kid,” Morris said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution“He did not come to us and demand a trade. He did not come to us and do anything like that… The opportunity presented itself for us to add speed to our [receivers group]. Desmond went out with class.”

Ridder will now turn his attention to backing up Kyler Murray in Arizona. While the Cardinals’ QB depth chart (which also includes Clayton Tune) is now set, that of the Falcons is set to see an addition relatively soon.

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