NFL declares Falcons tampered with Kirk Cousins, two others; Atlanta to forfeit 2025 draft pick, pay fine

Written by on June 13, 2024

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Exactly three months after signing Kirk Cousins to a $180 million contract at the start of 2024 NFL free agency, the Atlanta Falcons have been penalized for improperly pursuing the quarterback. The NFL announced Thursday that Atlanta “had improper contact” with Cousins and other free agents, requiring the Falcons to forfeit a 2025 fifth-round draft pick and pay a $250,000 fine.

Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot has also been fined $50,000 for the violations, the NFL announced, which included improper communications with wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Charlie Woerner, two of the club’s other 2024 additions.

“While the (NFL’s tampering) policy permits clubs to engage with and negotiate all aspects of an NFL player contract with the certified agent of any prospective unrestricted free agent during the two-day negotiating period,” the league said in a statement, “any direct contact between the player and an employee or representative of the club is prohibited. This includes discussion of travel arrangements or other logistical matters, which the club acknowledges took place with regard to these three players.”

In other words, Cousins and his fellow Falcons newcomers were found to have communicated with Atlanta during the negotiating period. Specifically, per NFL Media, they likely involved “logistical/administrative” errors, “such as making travel arrangements after players (already) agreed to terms” on contracts.

The NFL first began investigating a potential violation related to Cousins only days after the former Minnesota Vikings signal-caller inked his four-year deal with Atlanta. The Pro Bowl quarterback was widely considered one of the top players available, but he did not visit any other teams prior to signing with the Falcons.

In related news, the NFL announced Thursday that the Philadelphia Eagles have been cleared of any potential wrongdoing for their own big-name addition of former New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. The league said it “reviewed phone logs, text messages and other documents related to Philadelphia’s free agency strategy and decision to sign Barkley” and “did not discover sufficient evidence” to indicate the Eagles tampered with their former divisional rival. Barkley was part of the NFL’s interview process related to the investigation, as were Eagles coach Nick Sirianni, general manager Howie Roseman and Penn State head coach James Franklin, who had spoken publicly about Barkley’s move to the Eagles.

The post NFL declares Falcons tampered with Kirk Cousins, two others; Atlanta to forfeit 2025 draft pick, pay fine first appeared on CBS Sports.

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