The Falcons Will Always Have a Faux Connection to J.J. McCarthy

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Remember when the Minnesota Vikings employed Kirk Cousins? Certainly, that isn’t difficult to think about, as it happened just last year. What if there’s a world in which Michael Penix Jr. starts before J.J. McCarthy?

The Falcons Will Always Have a Faux Connection to J.J. McCarthy

Arguably, the most shocking move in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft was when the Atlanta Falcons used a top-ten pick on quarterback Michael Penix Jr. The franchise had just spent more than any reasonable outfit would have on an aging Kirk Cousins, coming off an Achilles injury, and they used their best draft capital to replace him rather than support him.

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There is no reason to believe the former Washington signal-caller will start games during the 2024 season, but aside from injury, his doing so would be nothing short of a travesty for the Falcons. Cousins is signed to a lucrative contract, and Penix playing would mean he has failed to meet even the most modest of expectations. It would allow Minnesota to laugh all the way to the bank, and they would be warranted in doing so.

J.J. McCarthy is tabbed as Minnesota’s quarterback of the future. He could take over at some point during 2024 or wait until Sam Darnold moves on in 2025. Regardless of when he lines up under center, it won’t be before head coach Kevin O’Connell determines he is ready. With Darnold in a position to succeed, given the weapons around him, there’s plenty of belief that McCarthy in 2025 makes the most sense.

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Regardless of what Minnesota does with its quarterback, the Falcons can control the narrative about how well the Vikings operate. If Cousins is moved on from year one for a quarterback drafted well above his projection, no one in Vikings Territory will bat an eye at the decision to let the veteran walk.

There’s a genuine possibility that McCarthy’s outcome won’t matter because Cousins’ being paid at the top end of the spectrum wasn’t ever going to be a wise decision. The Minnesota Vikings reset their situation, and now they can operate down a path that helps them connect the dots as they move forward.

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The Atlanta Falcons just provide a case study of what could have been, with a weird caveat, in the interim.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.