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There is no way out for Falcons due to Kirk Cousins’ Achilles injury, with one exception

Last year, Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract with the Raiders included a zero for the team, in case Garoppolo’s foot injury kept him from taking a physical before the start of the season.

This year, Kirk Cousins ​​explained during his introductory press conference in Atlanta that he had taken a physical test for everything but his Achilles tendon injury, and that he would have to take an Achilles tendon-specific physical test later.

When the Falcons used the eighth pick in the draft on quarterback Michael Penix Jr., a question arose in my twisted and confused brain. What if the Falcons can walk away from Cousins’ contract if he doesn’t pass a specific deadline?

Unlike the Raiders in 2023, the Falcons have no way out. With one very limited exception.

According to a source with knowledge of the terms, Cousins’ $50 million signing bonus requires passing on a physical injury but specifically excludes the pre-existing Achilles injury – “provided that the player continues to rehabilitate such pre-existing right Achilles injury as required by and under the supervision and direction of the club’s head team physician and the club’s head athletic trainer.”

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As long as Cousins ​​does what the team doctor and head athletic trainer tell him to do regarding the Achilles injury, the Falcons are on the hook for the full $50 million.

Of course, that won’t force the Falcons and Cousins ​​together indefinitely. With only $27.5 million in salary owed to Cousins ​​through 2025, it wouldn’t be difficult to find a suitor for Cousins ​​if both sides decide to make a permanent break after one season. (Cousins ​​has a no-trade clause.) While the dead money fee for a trade before June 1 would be $37.5 million, the Falcons would avoid $37.5 million in additional guarantees to Cousins. And if they think Penix is ​​done after just one year, having their starting quarterback on a rookie deal makes it easier to absorb the Cousins ​​cap.

That said, they will still have paid him $62.5 million for just one season if he is traded in 2025.

A transaction after 2025 (and before June 1, 2026) would result in a lower cap of $25 million. In that scenario, the Falcons would have paid Cousins ​​$90 million for two years.

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It all comes down to when they decide to switch to Penix. They have tried to defuse the situation by suggesting that Penix could stay in place for four or five years, which on its face is ridiculous. The truth is, a move to Penix could happen in a year or two without any major contractual complications for the Falcons.

There’s also a slim chance the Falcons could trade Cousins ​​before the start of the 2025 season. If Penix lights up in OTAs, if another team loses a starting quarterback before the regular season starts, and if that team and Cousins ​​decide to get together, a trade after June 1, 2024 would have the same cap impact as a trade before June And with $12.5 million of the Cousins ​​signing bonus in September 2024 and another $12.5 million in December 2024, the new team could agree to pay the money.

In 2016, the Vikings lost Teddy Bridgewater just before the start of the season. The Eagles, who planned to start Sam Bradford while rookie Carson Wentz was learning, quickly changed their plans when the Vikings offered Bradford a first- and fourth-round pick.

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These are not likely outcomes, but they are possible. At least they are not impossible. If Penix quickly shows he can be the guy, there are ways the Falcons can accelerate the timetable of moving from Cousins ​​to Penix.

Penix clearly has the future. The sooner the Penix Falcons can make it in the present, the better off they will be in the future.

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