Todd Bowles Sends Humorous Message Over Kirk Cousins Hype

Kirk Cousins

Getty Kirk Cousins turned the Falcons into the early NFC South favorites despite the Buccaneers' hold on the division.

As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got snubbed in offseason predictions, head coach Todd Bowles busted out an old musical hit to make his point.

“You talkin’ about respect … Aretha Franklin is about the only one that gets that,” Bowles told reporters at the annual NFL league meetings in Orlando on Tuesday.

The Atlanta Falcons became the new darling of the NFC South after signing quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency. It marks the second-straight year, the Buccaneers aren’t favorites to win the division despite three-straight NFC South crowns.

“We’re not trying to win the offseason,” Bowles said. “We’re trying to win the season. It feels like a lot of the players will get ready to come back and defend our title; that’s all we really worry about at this time of year.”

Cousins brings a lot of pedigree to the Falcons after three-straight seasons of 4,000-plus yards and 29 or more touchdowns. The former Minnesota Vikings star saw his season cut short in 2023 due to an Achilles injury after he completed 69.5% of his passes for 2,331 yards and 18 touchdowns versus five interceptions in eight games.

Atlanta has significant skill player talent in wide receiver Drake London, running back Bijan Robinson, and tight end Kyle Pitts. That’s the same core who helped the Falcons stun the Buccaneers once in the 2023 season.

The Falcons building toward a division winner and Tampa Bay getting overlooked again doesn’t bother Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht. He said as much at the NFL meetings on Tuesday, too.

“That’s fine with me,” Licht said. “I like being the underdog. This team likes being the underdog. I like keeping the receipts.”

Licht did just that after the Buccaneers won the NFC South in 2023. He trolled New Orleans Saints defensive end Cam Jordan, who claimed the Buccaneers would fall back to earth after Tom Brady‘s retirement.

Buccaneers Take Heat for Passing on Kirk Cousins

Despite quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s success in replacing Brady for 2023, Licht took heat in the media for re-signing Mayfield instead of going after Cousins. Dan Hanzus of the “Around the NFL” podcast argued the Buccaneers should have signed Cousins.

“If you are willing to go that high for Baker, salary-wise, why not rework a couple of more deals and make a real play for Kirk,” Hanzus said on March 22. “And then you don’t and then he ends up in your own division and then he goes to the team that has the best roster to contend in that division. Eeww-fah!”

The Buccaneers gave Mayfield a three-year $100 million contract while Cousins landed a four-year, $180 million deal in Atlanta.

Todd Bowles: ‘I Thought He Matured’

Bowles and company brought back some extra help this offseason in safety Jordan Whitehead, who could help slow down Cousins and other opposing passers. Last season, Whitehead tallied a career-high four interceptions with the New York Jets in his second year away from Tampa.

“I thought he matured,” Bowles said. “I thought his hands worked extremely well with the Jets. He played back deep a lot better. He understood quarters and half-coverage, where we used him more around the line of scrimmage; we used him back some.”

“I think he became a very good third-down player. He was still young when we had him and he matured a lot over the years,” Bowles added.