Tampering punishment for Falcons over Kirk Cousins could be announced this week


The week began with Kirk Cousins throwing out the first pitch at the Atlanta Braves game. The week could end with the NFL throwing the book at the Atlanta Falcons.

Via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, which opted not to download a smattering of his draft-related news on X but to tuck it behind a paywall, the investigation regarding whether the Falcons tampered with Cousins “could reach a resolution as early as this week.”

The tampering was clear and obvious. At his introductory press conference, Cousins himself admitted to multiple circumstances that violated the rules that apply during the negotiating window that precedes the official start of free agency. He said he spoke with the team’s head athletic trainer during the negotiating window. He apparently spoke with director of player personnel Ryan Pace before the official launch of the league year.

Cousins also was directly involved in recruiting former Bears receiver Darnell Mooney to Atlanta, an Inception-style instance of tampering within tampering. And Cousins admitted that Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts had been actively recruiting Cousins for multiple weeks, conduct which becomes a violation if the recruiting happens with the knowledge or at the direction of the team.

The league is also exploring whether the Eagles violated the rules by speaking directly with former Giants running back Saquon Barkley during the negotiating window. (Penn State coach James Franklin suggested it happened; the Eagles denied it.) Per Schefter, the discipline “is expected to be more severe for the Falcons.”

So what will it be? And when will it happen? Last year, the NFL announced minutes before the start of the draft the resolution of a previously unknown tampering situation between the Cardinals and Eagles over impermissible contact with former Philadelphia defensive coordinator (now Cardinals coach) Jonathan Gannon. Under that deal, there was a swap of picks between the Cardinals and Eagles.

It will be interesting to see whether Rich McKay’s employment by the Falcons secures lenience for the Falcons, and whether the NFL didn’t push as aggressively as it could have for digital footprints and other evidence of the potential violation, given McKay’s political sway at 345 Park Avenue.

The league could have (and should have, and maybe did) insisted on the cell phones and email records from coach Raheem Morris, G.M. Terry Fontenot, McKay, and owner Arthur Blank. The league could have (and should have, and maybe did) interviewed Cousins and all other key figures. The league could have (and should have, and maybe did) explored whether Cousins actually met with the head athletic trainer or anyone else from the team before 4:00 p.m. ET on March 13.

The league could have (and should have, and maybe did) explored how and why Cousins ended up being the closer, of sorts, for the effort to get Mooney to agree to terms.

Falcons fans don’t want to hear it, but it was the most blatant example of tampering we’ve seen, especially since Cousins basically outlined everything that happened, oblivious to the fact that he was unmasking clear violation of the rules. If the NFL won’t be hammering the Falcons for this, what’s the point in having rules at all?



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