Jan 28, 2021; National defensive lineman Ade Ogundeji of Notre Dame (91) drills against National offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz of Wisconsin -Whitewater (71) during National practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA;  Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons release OLB Ade Ogundeji

The Atlanta Falcons released outside linebacker Ade Ogundeji on Thursday.

Ogundeji, 25, recorded 75 tackles, three sacks and one fumble recovery in 32 career games (27 starts) in his first two seasons with the Falcons. He was selected by Atlanta in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame.

Ogundeji injured his foot during training camp last August, landed on injured reserve and sat out the 2023 season.

–Field Level Media

Apr 21, 2024; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins throws out the first pitch prior to the game between the Atlanta Braves against the Texas Rangers at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins takes field with Falcons, moving past injury, draft shocker

Healing from a season-ending injury and Achilles surgery, Kirk Cousins has lost interest in the draft night conversation centered around the Falcons selected quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick.

Cousins participated in non-contact workouts with his teammates on Tuesday and said he’s on target to be on the field when it matters most. How the Falcons choose to sort out the depth chart at his position after giving him $100 million guaranteed in free agency isn’t an immediate concern for the former Vikings’ starter.

“Always going to be competition in this league, and you’ve always got to go out and earn it,” Cousins said after team workouts Tuesday. “I’m going to control what I can control and also understand there’s a lot that you don’t control. I learned a long time ago that you’ve got to focus on what you can control.”

Falcons head coach Raheem Morris projected Cousins would be ready for training camp based on assessment made by the Atlanta medical team and training staff.

Cousins, who turns 36 in August, had surgery Nov. 1 for a torn Achilles tendon. He shared rehab routines and recovery and healing tips with former NFC North rival Aaron Rodgers, who was weeks ahead of Cousins’ timeline working back from the same injury.

When Cousins first met with media after signing a four-year deal to leave the Vikings, he intimated discussions with the Falcons’ training staff took place before he signed a mere two hours into NFL free agency on March 13. The league launched a tampering investigation that is ongoing, but Cousins dismissed any suggestions of wrongdoing as “innocent” on Tuesday.

Cousins, injured in Week 8 last season, was on the field with teammates on Tuesday and said he felt better than expected.

“It’s coming along really well. Today I felt the best I’ve felt,” he said. “I wasn’t sure when I stood here in March — and I had just gotten here — how much I’d be able to do at practice, but today I felt I was able to do everything I would have normally done. That’s big for that stuff I talked about initially: building continuity, getting shared history together … excited to see how fast we can heal from here.”

An interview on the “Bussin’ With the Boys” podcast earlier Tuesday framed the Penix draft conundrum a different way, touching on whether he has any animosity for the rookie.

“I don’t think there can be; I don’t think it’s helpful,” Cousins said in the interview. “We’re trying to win a Super Bowl and it’s hard enough. Let’s all be on the same page and let’s try to go win a Super Bowl.”

Cousins spent six seasons with the Vikings and played for Washington the first six years of his career. The former Michigan State quarterback has some idea what Penix is experiencing. He was drafted to be a backup to No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III, four rounds later in the same draft.

He reportedly spurned Minnesota’s bid to bring him back in free agency because he learned the Vikings were keen on drafting one of the six quarterbacks selected in the first round last month. The draft surprise came when Atlanta invested its top pick on a quarterback.

Cousins replayed his perspective of the draft-day conversation he had with the Falcons, who called when they were on the clock to inform him Penix was their pick.

“I think you’re reminded again that there are things you control and there’s a lot of things you don’t control,” Cousins told the “Bussin’ With the Boys” podcast. “So let’s deal in reality and recognize that fact and then be a steward not an owner.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 10, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (8) runs for a touchdown after a catch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons exercise fifth-year option for TE Kyle Pitts

The Atlanta Falcons picked up tight end Kyle Pitts’ fifth-year option on Monday.

The fourth overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft will stay with Atlanta through at least 2025. The option carries a guaranteed $10.878 million salary for 2025.

Pitts was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2021, when he caught 68 passes for 1,026 yards and one touchdown, but his production had tailed off in the two seasons since, in part due to a torn MCL midway through his sophomore campaign.

Pitts, 23, has totaled 149 receptions for 2,049 yards and six touchdowns over 44 career games (40 starts) while catching passes from Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke in the past two years.

The Falcons signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract in free agency before adding QB Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth pick in the draft last week.

Atlanta is also expected to have a new game plan under Raheem Morris, who was hired to replace Arthur Smith as head coach. Speaking at the owners’ meetings last month, Morris indicated he was high on Pitts.

“He’s the mayor of Atlanta,” Morris said. “I think he wants to come back and have a highly productive year. I think he’s excited about his partnership with some of the guys that we brought in.”

–Field Level Media

Apr 26, 2024; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons first round draft pick quarterback Michael Penix Jr talks to the media at a press conference introducing him at the Falcons training complex. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons QB Michael Penix Jr. confident, eager to start career

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr., whose selection by the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8 in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday stunned many draft experts, smiled through most of his introductory news conference Friday in Atlanta.

“A dream came true,” the former University of Washington star said. “It’s a dream I’ve had since I was a little kid. … It’s a special moment and something I will forever remember.”

Penix’s excitement far overshadowed any concern over his position in the draft.

“I’m here to do whatever I can to help this team win football games,” he said. “As far as what anybody else feels about the decision that was made, I have no control over that. All I can control is what I do and what I bring to this team.

“For me I know that I’m gonna be a great leader not just on, but off the field as well. I’m gonna be a great person and great teammate as well.”

As amicable as he seemed Friday, it was clear Penix has no shortage of confidence.

“Personally, I feel like I’m the best quarterback out of the draft,” he said. “I’m excited that I landed here and I’m excited to get started.”

He was repeatedly asked whether he had any problem with the Falcons’ succession plan, with Penix sitting behind No. 1 quarterback Kirk Cousins.

“I’m going to put in a ton of work,” he said. “There’s not going to be a beat missed. … You got to be ready. I’m gonna prepare, I’m gonna work just as (if) I’m the starter.”

The Falcons recently signed Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract, and the veteran QB was “confused” about the selection but reached out to Penix.

“Kirk he’s an amazing guy,” Penix said, adding that Cousins contacted him after the pick was made but wouldn’t divulge details of their conversation.

“I’m gonna keep it between me and him right now but it was definitely a good conversation, and I’m super excited to work with him — and he said he’s the same with me.”

Penix, the fourth quarterback drafted Thursday night out of a record-tying six first-round QB picks, led the Huskies to last season’s national championship game where they were beaten by the Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan’s quarterback, JJ McCarthy, was selected 10th by the Minnesota Vikings and Oregon’s Bo Nix went 12th to the Denver Broncos.

The draft’s first three picks were quarterbacks: USC’s Caleb Williams (to the Bears), LSU’s Jayden Daniels (Commanders) and North Carolina’s Drake Maye (Patriots).

Penix was asked about comparisons with another Falcons left-handed signal-caller, Michael Vick, and said Vick was his favorite quarterback growing up.

“He did great things here, obviously,” Penix said. “I keep in contact with him. He’s been a guy that I can reach out to whenever. He actually sent me a text congratulating me this morning.”

Penix said a recent visit to Seattle by the Atlanta coaches to see him throw apparently cemented their belief.

“It’s different whenever you see it up close, in person,” he said. “I feel like I did a very good job in the workout. …

“I feel like the offense is very good for me. … I felt very comfortable and confident with all of it.”

-Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) throws a pass against Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jaylen Harrell (32) during the fourth quarter in the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons pick QB Michael Penix Jr. despite Kirk Cousins signing

In a matter of six weeks, the Atlanta Falcons went from having no clear plan at quarterback to having two QBs.

Atlanta surprised many by selecting Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick in the draft on Thursday.

The selection gives the Falcons another option to go with Kirk Cousins, whom they signed to a four-year, $180 million deal on March 13 — a contract that includes $100 million guaranteed.

Cousins, 35, is looking to come back from a right Achilles tendon tear that ended his 2023 season in October.

Penix, who turns 24 in May, is coming off a spectacular senior season in which he led the Huskies to the national championship game. He threw for a national-high 4,903 yards and had 36 touchdown passes while getting intercepted 11 times.

He wound up as the Heisman Trophy runner-up behind LSU’s Jayden Daniels, and Penix captured the Maxwell Award, which goes to the county’s top college football player. Each of the past two seasons, Penix broke Washington’s single-season passing record.

Penix wound up as the fourth quarterback selected, possibly due in part to his injury history. During his six-year collegiate career (the first four seasons at Indiana), he was sidelined twice due to anterior cruciate ligament injuries and twice due to shoulder injuries.

Using two starting quarterbacks last year — Desmond Ridder produced a 6-7 record and Taylor Heinicke went 1-3 — Atlanta wound up ranked 27th in the NFL in passer rating at 80.5. The Falcons threw 17 touchdown passes and were intercepted 17 times.

Cousins is a four-time Pro Bowl selection who had missed just one start since 2015 before last year.

–Field Level Media

Apr 21, 2024; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins throws out the first pitch prior to the game between the Atlanta Braves against the Texas Rangers at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

NFL tampering probe won’t affect 2024 draft picks for Eagles, Falcons

The NFL’s investigation into potential tampering by the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles is ongoing and will not be completed this week, the league said Tuesday.

With the 2024 NFL Draft scheduled to begin Thursday, the league will not be docking either team draft picks — should it find one or both guilty of tampering — this year.

The league confirmed in March that it was looking into the possibility of tampering by the teams prior to the start of free agency. The reviews focus on quarterback Kirk Cousins agreeing to a four-year, $180 million contract with the Falcons, and running back Saquon Barkley signing a three-year, $37.75 million deal with the Eagles.

The Falcons said in a statement at the time that “due to the NFL’s review, we are unable to provide information or have additional comment.”

The Eagles denied the claims.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) leaves the field after a game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Ryan returns to Atlanta, retires as member of Falcons

Matt Ryan, a former NFL Most Valuable Player, made the end of his pro football career official Monday, retiring as a member of the Atlanta Falcons.

Ryan played 14 seasons at quarterback for the Falcons, who selected him with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2008 draft, and one final season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2022. He didn’t play last season, instead working as a television analyst.

On Monday, the Falcons posted a three-minute-plus video in which Ryan made the announcement, thanking the city and the team.

“My childhood dream has officially come to an end. I’m honored to retire as a Falcon,” he said.

Ryan led the NFL in completions in 2019 and 2020 and won the 2016 MVP, when he led the team to an 11-5 mark behind 4,944 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was selected to four Pro Bowls.

That 2016 team played in Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5, 2017, and had a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots in the third quarter before Tom Brady led his team on an epic comeback, winning 34-28 in overtime.

“Matt Ryan’s impact on the Atlanta Falcons organization and the city of Atlanta is immeasurable,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Monday. “Matt was selected as the third-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, went on to win the NFL Rookie of the Year award and led us to the playoffs in his first season.

“That was the start of building a special career that now sees him holding every significant passing record in our franchise history. Matt always represented himself, his family, teammates and our team with class, character, and integrity on and off the field.”

Ryan started 234 career games — 222 of them in Atlanta — and was remarkably durable in posting a 124-109-1 record. He missed just three games with the Falcons.

For his career, he connected on 65.6 percent of his passes 62,792 yards (seventh in NFL history), threw 381 touchdown passes (ninth in NFL history) and 183 interceptions.

His 38 career fourth-quarter comebacks rank him fourth all-time in the category behind Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

He said Monday that he was happy to retire as a member of the Falcons: “You have no control in this profession in where you start. I am so lucky that my start and my finish was here in Atlanta.”

–Field Level Media

Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA;  Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris talks to the media at the 2024 NFL Combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

NFL announces offseason workout dates for all 32 teams

The Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Chargers and Washington Commanders will kick off their respective offseason workouts on April 2, the NFL announced on Friday.

The early start likely will be appreciated by the three teams given that they all have new head coaches, namely Raheem Morris (Falcons), Jim Harbaugh (Chargers) and Dan Quinn (Commanders).

The Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans also feature new head coaches and will start their respective offseason programs on April 8. Dave Canales is the head coach of the Panthers, while Jerod Mayo (Patriots), Mike Macdonald (Seahawks) and Brian Callahan (Titans) lead their respective teams.

Below are the offseason workout dates for all 32 teams:

ARIZONA CARDINALS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-22, May 28-30, June 3-6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

ATLANTA FALCONS

First Day: April 2
Voluntary Minicamp: April 22-24
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 13-14, May 16, May 20-21, May 23, June 3-4, June 6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 10-12

BALTIMORE RAVENS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20, May 22-23, May 28, May 30-31, June 3-4, June 6-7
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

BUFFALO BILLS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-30, June 3-4, June 6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

CAROLINA PANTHERS

First Day: April 8
Voluntary Minicamp: April 23-25
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31, June 3-4, June 6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

CHICAGO BEARS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31
Mandatory Minicamp: June 4-6

CINCINNATI BENGALS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 28-30, June 3-6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

CLEVELAND BROWNS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 21-23, May 28-30, June 3-6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

DALLAS COWBOYS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 21-23, May 29-31
Mandatory Minicamp: June 4-6

DENVER BRONCOS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 21-23, May 28-30, June 3-6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

DETROIT LIONS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 21-23, May 29-31, June 10-12
Mandatory Minicamp: June 4-6

GREEN BAY PACKERS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31, June 3-4, June 6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

HOUSTON TEXANS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 29-31, June 3-4, June 6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 21-23, May 29-31
Mandatory Minicamp: June 4-6

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31, June 3-6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 10-12

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-22, May 28-30, June 4-7
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31, June 3-6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

First Day: April 2
Voluntary Minicamp: April 22-24
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 29-31, June 4-7
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

LOS ANGELES RAMS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31, June 3-6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 10-12

MIAMI DOLPHINS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31
Mandatory Minicamp: June 4-6

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31, June 10-13
Mandatory Minicamp: June 4-6

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

First Day: April 8
Voluntary Minicamp: April 23-24
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 29-31, June 3-4, June 6-7
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 21-23, May 28-30, June 3-6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

NEW YORK GIANTS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31, June 3-4, June 6-7
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

NEW YORK JETS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31, June 3-4, June 6-7
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20, May 22-23, May 28, May 30-31
Mandatory Minicamp: June 4-6

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 21-23, May 28-30, June 3-6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31
Mandatory Minicamp: June 4-6

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

First Day: April 8
Voluntary Minicamp: April 22-24
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20, May 22-23, May 28, May 30-31, June 3-4, June 6-7
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 21-23, May 28-30, June 4-6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

TENNESSEE TITANS

First Day: April 8
Voluntary Minicamp: April 22-24
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31, June 10-13
Mandatory Minicamp: June 4-6

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

First Day: April 2
Voluntary Minicamp: April 22-24
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 14-15, May 17, May 21-22, May 24, June 4-5, June 7
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13

–Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (84) run in the open field against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Steelers sign RB/KR Cordarrelle Patterson

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed running back and return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson to a two-year, $6 million contract, NFL Network and ESPN reported Tuesday.

After reinventing himself as a running back for the past three seasons in Atlanta, Patterson will follow former Falcons head coach Arthur Smith to Pittsburgh, where the latter is now the offensive coordinator.

Patterson entered the league as a wide receiver and a first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2013. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, a four-time first-team All-Pro selection and a two-time second-team All-Pro as a returner over the first eight years of his career with Minnesota (2013-16), Oakland (2017), New England (2018) and Chicago (2019-20).

Patterson, 33, has returned nine kicks for touchdowns in his career, though just one in his past three seasons. He led the league in kick return yardage in 2019 (825) and 2020 (1,017).

He started 13 games at running back for Atlanta in 2021, appearing in 16 games total, and had a career-high 1,166 yards from scrimmage (618 rushing, 548 receiving). In three seasons with the Falcons, Patterson tallied 1,494 rushing yards, 708 receiving yards and 20 total touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Oct 18, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) warms up before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons owner denies tampering in acquisition of Kirk Cousins

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank does not believe his team is guilty of tampering with then-free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins before officially signing him earlier this month.

Blank said the Falcons will “deal with” the outcome of the NFL’s investigation into potential tampering, whatever it may be.

“The tampering deal, we obviously don’t believe we tampered, and we shared all the information with the league,” Blank told reporters Monday at the league meeting in Orlando. “And they’ll review the process and the facts and they are in the middle of doing that, and whatever the result is, we’ll deal with it.”

Cousins signed with Atlanta on a four-year contract worth up to $180 million on March 13, the first official day of free agency. The team and Cousins’ agent had agreed to terms during the so-called legal tampering period, the two days before the start of the new league year.

During an introductory press conference in Atlanta, Cousins said he had spoken to the Falcons’ head athletic trainer and head of PR on the phone before the legal negotiating window, which is against the rules for pending free agents.

The league is also investigating potential tampering by the Philadelphia Eagles with running back Saquon Barkley.

As for on the field, the Falcons believe Cousins will be the answer to the quarterback inconsistency they’ve experienced since parting with Matt Ryan. Cousins was averaging 291.4 passing yards per game last season with the Minnesota Vikings before tearing an Achilles tendon.

“Obviously our football folks felt strongly,” Blank said of Cousins. “Our fans I definitely think would concur with that. He’s a very high-quality quarterback, he’s performed at a high level for 12 years in the league and feel pretty fortunate having him as a quarterback and look forward to seeing the results with him.”

Cousins has thrown for 39,471 yards, 270 touchdowns and 110 interceptions over in his NFL career, six seasons with Washington and six seasons with Minnesota.

–Field Level Media