NFL fines, takes 5th-round draft pick from Falcons for tampering involving Kirk Cousins

The NFL has announced its punishment for the Atlanta Falcons following an investigation into tampering allegations during free agency.

Thursday, the league announced it will dock Atlanta its 2025 fifth-round draft pick, fine the team $250,000 and fine the club’s general manager $50,000 for violating league policy in contract discussions with former Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins as well as wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Charlie Woerner.

The investigation was launched after Cousins said in his introductory press conference that he’d had conversations with Atlanta’s head trainer during the NFL negotiating period, which isn’t allowed under league rules.

Additionally, the league said it didn’t find enough evidence that Philadelphia violated the tampering policy with running back Saquon Barkley.

Cousins spent six seasons in purple and gold but signed a four-year, $180 million deal that includes $100 million guaranteed with Atlanta shortly after the league’s 52-hour legal tampering window opened. The Vikings then signed Sam Darnold in free agency to replace Cousins in the short-term and drafted J.J. McCarthy in the first round of the NFL Draft to be the long-term replacement.

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It’s normal for teams and players to reach agreements quickly and there were other players who agreed to deals even before Cousins. But Cousins’ comments at his introductory news conference raised questions that led to the NFL’s investigation.

“There’s great people here,” Cousins said. “And it’s not just the football team. I mean, I’m looking at the support staff. Meeting — calling, yesterday, calling our head athletic trainer, talking to our head of PR. I’m thinking, we got good people here. And that’s exciting to be a part of.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.