Atlanta Falcons updated depth chart after Kirk Cousins signing

  • Kirk Cousins to the Atlanta Falcons means there is a new starting quarterback in town.
  • Although Arthur Smith is out, Taylor Heinicke and Desmond Ridder are still under contract.
  • It is not about who is at the top in the Falcons' quarterback depth chart, but who is No. 2?

Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

The Atlanta Falcons made arguably the biggest splash of any team in the first wave of free agency. They decided to get better at the quarterback position by prying Kirk Cousins away from the Minnesota Vikings. It cost the Dirty Birds $180 million over the next four years, but only $100 million of that is fully guaranteed. It seems to be a front-loaded deal, by the way, so everybody wins here.

However, this is a day where the two other quarterbacks currently on the Falcons roster have to reevaluate some things. Taylor Heinicke is a pro's pro, but even his days of being an NFL starter are likely over. As for Desmond Ridder, you have to wonder if he is going to stick with the Falcons throughout the rest of his rookie contract out of Cincinnati. He is a prime candidate to be traded.

Here is Atlanta's quarterback depth chart right after the Cousins signing, courtesy of Ourlads.

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Taylor Heinicke
  3. Desmond Ridder

Cousins is clearly No.1, but Ourlads going with Heinicke over Ridder says a ton about the situation.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback depth chart after Kirk Cousins signing

As a lifelong fan of this team, I would suspect that either Heinicke or Ridder sticks around as the backup, but not both. Heinicke is the more seasoned veteran, and came over from Washington to mostly be Ridder's backup last year. He had a few starts, but it was not a memorable first year for him in Atlanta. Heinicke may live in Flowery Branch now, but cutting him saves Atlanta more cap space.

Because Ridder is still on his rookie deal, there is some upside to keeping him around as the backup for at least a year or so. If Cousins were to get hurt, Atlanta could still be competitive, as illustrated by the seven wins the team had the last two years when Ridder was the starter. However, the instant the Falcons decided to bring in Cousins, the Ridder era under center was over. He is firmly a backup now.

While I think Heinicke is the better quarterback, as well as the better fit in Zac Robinson's system, Ridder is more likely to stay with the Falcons this year because of the money. Cutting Ridder only saves the Falcons like $1 million, whereas parting ways with Heinicke gets them closer to $10 million. It is not that much, but there are savings to be had if Heinicke is not part of the Falcons' plans in 2024.

Going forward, the Falcons will be paying big money to a quarterback with Cousins coming aboard.

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