Falcons Rumors

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/10/24

Yesterday’s rush of rookie signings continued today. Here are Friday’s draft pick signings:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

  • K Will Reichard (sixth round, Alabama)
  • C Michael Jurgens (seventh round, Wake Forest)
  • DT Levi Drake Rodriguez (seventh round, Texas A&M-Commerce)

New England Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • G Mason McCormick (fourth round, South Dakota State)
  • DT Logan Lee (sixth round, Iowa)

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/10/24

Friday’s minor transactions as we head into the weekend:

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

  • Deemed international roster exemption: T Travis Clayton

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

Cohen hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since his time in Chicago, where he earned first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors as a punt returner, ended in 2020. The North Carolina A&T product had been part of an effective 1-2 punch with Jordan Howard but saw his role diminish with the arrival of David Montgomery in 2019. Since then, injuries have limited the explosive rusher’s ability to make an impact.

Bud Dupree Visits Chargers; OLB Drawing Interest From Falcons, Steelers

The Chargers elected to keep both Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack in the fold this offseason, but the team is still interested in at least one of the top veteran edge rushers still on the market. Bud Dupree visited the team, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

While the Bolts are interested in adding what would be a high-profile rotational rusher behind their Pro Bowl OLB tandem, Dupree has seen a bit of a post-draft market emerge for his services. Two of his previous three employers — the Steelers and Falcons — have engaged in talks about a return, Schefter adds.

The NFL’s compensatory formula not including free agency moves made in May annually leads to a host of post-draft signings. A handful of notable free agents have signed since the draft, with additions and subtractions no longer affecting teams’ 2025 compensatory hauls. Dupree looks likely to be a post-draft signee, and of these three teams, one carries a clear need compared to the others.

When the Falcons surprised most by drafting Michael Penix Jr. eighth overall, they passed on bolstering their edge rush. Atlanta has been unable to generate consistent edge pressure for years, but Dupree made some contributions following his Titans release. Dupree’s 6.5 sacks last season were his most since 2020, when an ACL tear ended his Steelers run. Dupree tied with Calais Campbell for the team lead in sacks; Campbell is also not currently with the Falcons, though the team has kept the door open to a return for an age-38 season.

Dupree, 30, tallied just eight QB hits last season; his 24 pressures ranked 49th in the league. The Falcons attempted to trade back into Round 1, eyeing defensive help. The Falcons were aiming to land Laiatu Latu as well; that certainly would have depleted the team’s draft capital, considering where its second-round slot checked in. As it stands, Atlanta features Lorenzo Carter and 2022 second-round pick Arnold Ebiketie as its top OLBs. The team also chose Bralen Trice in Round 3.

The Steelers, who drafted Dupree in the 2015 first round and kept him through 2020 via the fifth-year option and franchise tag, has two clear-cut starters in T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. The latter took over as Watt’s top sidekick when Dupree defected to the Titans in 2021. Highsmith has emerged as one of the NFL’s better edge players since, and the Steelers rewarded him with an extension last year. The team has placed a priority on its OLB3 role, having Melvin Ingram and Markus Golden in that position in recent years.

A Chargers add would be perhaps the most interesting, seeing as the Bolts reached restructure agreements to keep Bosa and Mack (while unloading expensive wideouts Keenan Allen and Mike Williams). The team also received promising early returns from 2023 second-round OLB Tuli Tuipulotu, who totaled 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and 12 QB hits as a rookie. While Bosa’s injury history makes backup pass-rushing firepower important for the Bolts, Tuipulotu already provides some bench assistance.

Adam La Rose contributed to this post.

49ers Notes: Cousins, Deebo, Gipson, Green

No matter how successful the 49ers become, we cannot seem to move past “what if?” scenarios involving bigger-name QBs. Although Tom Brady is retired (for the time being, at least), Kirk Cousins made a second free agency defection. The former Kyle Shanahan Washington pupil received a $100MM practical guarantee from the Falcons, tying him to the team for at least two seasons. Atlanta’s Michael Penix Jr. pick raised the most eyebrows of any in the draft (and stunned Cousins), and one GM said (via the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora) the Falcons do not choose Penix at No. 8 if they do not believe a Cousins trade destination will emerge. Another GM viewed the Penix pick as a path for Cousins to, at long last, reunite with Shanahan in San Francisco.

It would cost the Falcons $37.5MM in dead money to trade Cousins before June 1 next year, and while one of the GMs who spoke to La Canfora the NFC South team would likely be willing to eat dead money to move the high-priced starter (presuming Penix is ready), the 49ers passing on a Brock Purdy extension to bring in a QB ahead of his age-37 season would be quite the development. Jed York has spoken of a Purdy extension, though La Canfora posits the former Mr. Irrelevant’s asking price could point Shanahan back to Cousins.

The 49ers made early preparations to sign Cousins in 2018, before their Jimmy Garoppolo extension, but Shanahan has long been a fan — to the point the 49ers were willing to offer No. 2 overall for the then-Washington QB in 2017. While dot connecting makes sense after the surprising Penix pick, several hurdles appear in the path to Cousins joining the 49ers this late in the game. Here is the latest out of San Francisco:

NFL Workouts: Jones, Ward, Summers, Tagovailoa

Veteran wide receiver Zay Jones continues to make the rounds after getting released by the Jaguars last week. Since then, the 29-year-old pass catcher has taken visits with the Titans, Cardinals, and Cowboys. The newest report has Jones scheduling a visit with the Chiefs tomorrow, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

An impressive 2022 campaign that saw Jones catch 82 balls for 823 yards and five touchdowns, all career highs except for the touchdowns, was virtually erased by a disappointing 2023 campaign in which the receiver missed eight games due to a PCL issue and femur damage. The Jaguars opted not to finish out Jones’ final season of a three-year contract, for which Jones would have represented a $6.57MM cap charge.

In Kansas City, Jones could be a part of a completely new-look wide receiving corps for Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs have added Marquise Brown in free agency and Texas first-round rookie Xavier Worthy in the draft. They also return Rashee Rice, Justin Watson, Skyy Moore, and Noah Gray from last year, but Rice could be facing some legal trouble, and if healthy, Jones would be an improvement over the other three while playing alongside Brown and Worthy.

Here are a few other workouts happening around the NFL:

  • Career depth running back Jonathan Ward is participating in the Steelers rookie minicamp, per Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. Over four years with the Cardinals and Titans, Ward only has 69 career rushing yards on 17 carries. He’s proven to be an active special teams contributor during that time, though.
  • The Broncos took a look at veteran linebacker Ty Summers at their rookie minicamp this past weekend, according to Mike Klis of 9NEWS. Summers only has one career start over five years with the Packers, Jaguars, and Saints but has appeared in 71 games over that span. A linebacker with some speed, Summers is a productive special teamer, as well.
  • After agreeing to participate in the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp, undrafted Maryland quarterback, and brother of the Dolphins’ starting passer, Taulia Tagovailoa will attend the Cardinals‘ rookie minicamp this week, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. The rookie will audition to join last year’s fifth-round pick Clayton Tune and 2022’s third-round pick for Atlanta Desmond Ridder as potential backup arms for Kyler Murray in 2024.
  • An undrafted linebacker who graduated from Harvard before playing as a graduate transfer at Villanova, Daniel Abraham has been invited to minicamps for both the Falcons and the Seahawks, per Wilson. The speedy linebacker obviously poses some interest due to both his athleticism and his intellect.

Seahawks’ GM, HC Discuss Byron Murphy Pick; Team Not Expected To Trade From DL Group

MAY 8: The Rams also made an offer for the Seahawks’ No. 16 pick, according to Sportskeeda.com’s Tony Pauline. Los Angeles, which also attempted to trade up higher for Brock Bowers, is believed to have been targeting Murphy. The Eagles’ interest stemmed from a fear they would lose Quinyon Mitchell had they not traded up. Mitchell ended up falling to Philly at No. 22, while the Rams went with Florida State D-lineman Jared Verse at No. 19.

MAY 5: Going into this year’s draft, guard was arguably the Seahawks’ biggest need. And as ESPN’s Brady Henderson writes, Seattle had targeted Alabama’s JC Latham, who was selected by the Titans with the No. 7 overall pick (the ‘Hawks would have slid Latham, a collegiate tackle, to the interior of their O-line, at least in the early stages of his pro career).

[RELATED: Murphy Signs Rookie Deal]

A number of this year’s top defensive prospects fell lower than expected due to an unprecedented run on offensive talent. When the Seahawks were on the clock with the No. 16 pick, only one defensive player, UCLA edge defender Laiatu Latu, was off the board, and he went to the Colts at No. 15. That left Texas DT Byron Murphy II available for Seattle, whom the team saw as the best defender in the 2024 class. The ‘Hawks ultimately turned in the card for the former Longhorn.

As offensive players were flying off the board, the Seahawks — who did not have a second-round choice — were fielding trade offers that would have allowed them to move down the board and pick up additional draft capital in the process. Per Henderson, the ‘Hawks received offers from the Steelers, Eagles, Vikings, and Falcons (who were trying to trade back into the first round after surprisingly drafting QB Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 choice). The Packers were also interested in acquiring Seattle’s No. 16 selection, but Green Bay ultimately did not make an offer.

With Murphy still available but with Leonard Williams, Jarran Reed, Dre’Mont Jones, Johnathan Hankins, and several recent draftees already on the roster, GM John Schneider was tempted to trade back. However, Seattle is not in rebuild mode, and Schneider felt that Murphy was too good to pass up.

“I’d be lying to you if I said we didn’t think about [trading back],” Schneider said. “But [Murphy], he was just too good. He influences the game, like a lot. He’s got that ability to jump off the ball and get up field. He can play edges, he can play square, he can rush the passer inside, he gets up and down the line of scrimmage.”

New head coach Mike Macdonald added, “he just plays our style of football, really. And then he’s so talented. Versatility along the front, such an aggressive player, plays violently, heavy hands for a guy [of] shorter stature, flexible, pass-rush flexibility — you name it. Yeah, just really excited to have him.”

With all of the D-linemen on the roster and the Seahawks’ shortage of cap space — per OverTheCap.com, Seattle is the only team in the red as of the time of this writing — it would be fair to expect the club to deal from its DL surplus. However, Henderson said the team has no such plans, especially since Macdonald intends to rotate his players more frequently than his predecessor, Pete Carroll.

In related news, the team is expected to have outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu back for training camp, per Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic. Nwosu, who recorded 9.5 sacks in his first Seattle slate in 2022, suffered a pectoral strain in October and missed the remainder of the 2023 campaign. He is under contract through 2026 by virtue of the three-year, $45MM extension he signed in July.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/7/24

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

  • Waived (non-football injury): OL Ryan Swoboda

Green Bay Packers

  • Reverted to IR: WR Thyrick Pitts

Kansas City Chiefs

Minnesota Vikings

Tennessee Titans

  • Waived: DL Shakel Brown

Washington Commanders

  • Waived: LB Brandon Bouyer-Randle, CB D’Angelo Mandell, DE Joshua Pryor

Falcons Attempted To Acquire Jets’ No. 10 Pick

The Falcons provided one of the draft’s largest surprises in the first round. Atlanta used the No. 8 selection on quarterback Michael Penix Jr., a move which raised eyebrows given the team’s free agent investment in Kirk Cousins. That was not the only move the Falcons were prepared to make in the first round, however.

Atlanta’s efforts to move up the top-10 order were, understandably, rejected. The way the QB board fell still allowed the team to add Penix as a long-term Cousins successor, though. Many had pointed to the Falcons as a candidate to make the draft’s first defensive addition with the eighth pick, but that still would have been a possibility with a trade to acquire another Day 1 selection.

On that note, a behind-the-scenes team video from the Jets shows that Atlanta was interested in trading for New York’s top pick (No. 10 overall). The Jets turned down the Falcons’ interest, although they ultimately moved back one spot after trading places with the Vikings. Atlanta’s Penix selection has been criticized – including by Cousins himself, initially – for not providing immediate help to the team in 2024, something another first-rounder would have done.

In the aforementioned video, Jets general manager Joe Douglas makes it clear the Falcons wished to keep the eighth overall pick while adding No. 10. The latter selection would have come at a massive price, of course, and acquiring it likely would have required a package involving future Day 1 capital. Moving back into the top 10 would, on the other hand, have given Atlanta a free choice of the defensive prospects in the 2024 class.

While the Falcons could be speculatively connected to a number of players on that side of the ball, ESPN’s Matt Miller notes that a source pegged Atlanta’s considerations at No. 8 as Penix, Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner and Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy less than one week before the draft. Murphy went 16th overall to the Seahawks, while the Vikings traded up to select Turner one spot later.

After drafting Penix, Atlanta made four straight selections on the defensive side of the ball (including two D-linemen and one edge rusher). Those players will be counted on as rookies more than Penix – provided Cousins is healthy in 2024 – but the same would of course have been true of a prospect added at No. 10. This case is another which will profile as an interesting ‘what if’ scenario as the performances of the 2024 class play out over time.

Latest On Falcons’ First-Round Decision

The Falcons shocked many last Thursday when the team opted to take Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft. Some saw the pick as a reach in value, thinking Penix could’ve been acquired after trading back; others saw it as a wasted opportunity to address a position of need after Atlanta had just given Kirk Cousins a four-year, $180MM contract with $90MM guaranteed. All this while the team faces significant tampering charges that could deprive them of more first-round picks in the future.

In terms of value, the Falcons feel like they got a steal, at least concerning positional value. Penix ended up being the fourth quarterback off the board, following Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye, but was drafted before J.J. McCarthy, who was ahead of him in most mock drafts and rankings. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Atlanta was satisfied with how the order of quarterbacks played out, favoring Penix over Maye and McCarthy, though Maye’s camp had reportedly declined to work out for the Falcons, thinking he’d certainly be gone by No. 8 overall. Some in the building even had Penix ahead of Daniels at No. 2.

There also didn’t seem to be any interest in trading back. Breer reports that the team had made inquiries about moving up previously, investigating the availability of the draft’s top picks while in Indianapolis. They reportedly “got flat-out no’s” from Chicago and Washington, while the Patriots and Cardinals informed Atlanta that they would not be moving from their selection until they were on the clock. These rejections were part of what spurred the Falcons to land Cousins.

Speaking of Cousins, we’ve mentioned that the 36-year-old passer was understandably “stunned” by the team’s decision to take a quarterback with their first-round pick, much like the rest of us. Breer added a bit of context to Cousins’ shock that came with little-to-no heads up. He tells us that Cousins’ departure from Minnesota was, in part, due to the Vikings informing him that they had plans to draft a passer in 2024, making the Falcons’ similar plan sting all that much more.

The reasoning for the Falcons’ decision ended up coming down to their research into draft history. Head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Terry Fontenot explored a history that showed, on average, only one or two quarterbacks that make it in the NFL out of each draft class, very few of whom are drafted outside the top 10 picks. Also, having sought Cousins to escape from the past two years of a kind of quarterback crisis, owner Arthur Blank was not content with Cousins being the only plan moving forward; he desired a succession plan.

Fontenot explained to Blank that the personnel department didn’t have much faith in the quarterbacks that would be coming out over the next two years, that their best chance for a strong succession plan to Cousins was right in front of them. Fontenot asked Blank, “Are we gonna win for a couple seasons and then not be able to win anymore…?”

In the end, Blank agreed to the moves deemed necessary, Fontenot called Cousins once they were on the clock, and the team selected his eventual replacement. In doing so, though, the team gained a newfound sense of security. Assistant general manager Kyle Smith told the media that with the acquisition of Cousins and the drafting of Penix, the brass feels great about the quarterback position “for the next five years…minimum.”