Terry Fontenot: Kirk Cousins is our quarterback; Michael Penix is our future

The Falcons selected University of Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick only six weeks after signing Kirk Cousins to a four-year deal worth up to $180 million.

The move took everyone, including Cousins, by surprise.

"Kirk Cousins is our quarterback," General Manager Terry Fontenot said, via video from the team. "We're very excited about Kirk. We're very excited about this team. Michael Penix is . . . we're talking about the future. You look at the future. You look at the big picture. We are very excited about that quarterback room, and again, Kirk is our quarterback. But adding Michael Penix is thinking about the future."

The Falcons had three starting quarterbacks the past two seasons as they attempted to replace Matt Ryan. They now not only have replaced him but have a succession plan for Cousins, who turns 36 in August.

The Falcons believe that with Cousins as their quarterback for at least the next two years and Penix for the future that they are well positioned for long-term success.

"It's pretty simple for us: When you get Kirk Cousins, and you talk about short-term winning and talk about winning right now, which we know we will be in a position to do, we won't have the ability to be picking this high again with the guy that we got," coach Raheem Morris said. "We were lucky enough to watch Matt Ryan play 14 years . . . with the Atlanta Falcons. At some point, you've got to find a way to have that succession plan in place. It just so happened it presented itself tonight."

With Cousins due $100 million the next two years, the Falcons plan is for Penix to sit, watch and learn. It's the same thing the Packers did with Jordan Love behind Aaron Rodgers.

"We're very excited about where Kirk is," Fontenot said. "We feel very confident in him and everything he's going to do for us. Again, we're thinking more long-term with this. We're very, very excited about Kirk. That has not changed. This is thinking about the future."