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Kirk Cousins’ new backup takes a steep pay cut to stay with Falcons ahead of 2024 season, per report

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The Atlanta Falcons paid a pretty penny to lure Kirk Cousins from the Minnesota Vikings in 2024 NFL free agency, committing $180 million to the quarterback in March. Now they’re recouping a small fraction of salary cap space at the position, with backup Taylor Heinicke recently agreeing to a steep pay cut in order to remain under contract, as ESPN reported.

Heinicke initially inked a two-year, $14 million deal last offseason, but his 2024 base salary has been decreased from $5 million to just $1.21 million. The Falcons have guaranteed $1.32 million of his deal in exchange for the restructure, per Over the Cap, but the team has also removed a $40,000 per-game active-roster bonus. This wipes out up to $6 million in potential incentives, while helping the Falcons immediately save close to $4.5 million against the 2024 salary cap.

New coach Raheem Morris has called Heinicke an “elite backup,” but the financial tweaks suggest the former Washington Commanders starter may need to compete for the official No. 2 job this summer. The Falcons are also expecting to add to the position through April’s draft after trading 2023 starter Desmond Ridder to the Arizona Cardinals following Cousins’ arrival.

Heinicke, 31, made four starts for Atlanta last year, going 1-3 while completing just 59% of his passes. The former Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers prospect is best known for his time in Washington, where he logged 25 starts over three seasons, including a playoff appearance against the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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