Kurt Benkert signed a reserve/future contract with the Falcons in January that would’ve seen him stay in Atlanta on a one year, $780,000 pact if Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith planned to give him a shot to back up Matt Ryan. Evidently that was not in the team’s plans, as the team announced that they’ve waived him.
Benkert, 25, joined the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and stood out during the summer as an athletic, strong-armed quarterback. He couldn’t crack the roster in his rookie season and spent it on the practice squad, but appeared to be in a strong position to challenge Matt Schaub for the backup gig in 2019 before a toe injury in preseason laid him up for the rest of the season. Benkert then spent the entire 2020 season on the practice squad except for a one game stint on the active roster, and figured to head into 2021 again looking to compete for the backup role with Matt Schaub retiring.
It’s a bummer because Benkert, like Ricardo Allen, is a thoroughly likeable human being. As we’ve written in the past, Benkert is one of the best Fortnite players in the NFL and an avid gamer who has always been willing to connect with fans and was generous with his time with our staff here at The Falcoholic. I also would’ve liked to see Benkert get a real crack at backing up Ryan over the past three years, but he’ll now likely get a better shot at realizing that outcome elsewhere.
Atlanta’s decision to cut ties with Benkert makes it clear they plan to address the quarterback position either via free agency or the draft this year, with rampant speculation about the team’s interest in Matt Ryan’s long-term successor at #4 ongoing from now until late April. Whether they go that route, draft someone to groom later, or look at proven quarterbacks to back up Ryan, there will be at least one major acquisition this offseason. Benkert’s release essentially confirms that.
We wish Benkert well as he looks for his next team. Given the state of NFL quarterbacking and how hard teams are looking for promising options, he shouldn’t struggle to land somewhere to compete for a backup job.