Jun 3, 2024; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins (18) is interviewed after Falcons OTA at the Falcons Training facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

(Atlanta, GA) – The Atlanta Falcons were caught violating the league’s tampering policy this offseason and had their 2025 fifth-round pick taken by the NFL.

The organization was found to have made “improper contact” with free agents like Kirk Cousins, Darnell Mooney, and Charlie Woerner, discussing opportunities to join the team with prospective players before the official start of free agency.

General manager Terry Fontenot has been fined $50,000 with the team receiving an additional $250,000 penalty.

Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL’s statement reads as follows: “While the 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, any direct contact between the player and an employee or representative of the club is prohibited.” 

In regard to this specific situation with Atlanta, they added “this includes discussion of travel arrangements or other logistical matters, which the club acknowledges took place with regard to these three players.”

Cousins initially denounced the tampering rumors but has since admitted that Kyle Pitts had been recruiting him individually for a number of weeks. 

Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles were also under scrutiny for their landing of superstar running back Saquon Barkley. They were found to have not made direct contact with Barkley during the 52-hour legal tampering period, any and all discussions were made through his agent. 

The Miami Dolphins had their first and third round picks after they were caught tampering with Tom Brady and Sean Payton in 2022. The aftermath for Atlanta is a slap-on-the-wrist in comparison, considering how little they had to forfeit in punishment and the monumental piece they added with Cousins. 

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