Falcons forfeit fifth-round pick, fined for tampering with former Viking Kirk Cousins

(AP News) – The Atlanta Falcons were stripped of a fifth-round pick in next year’s draft on Thursday for violating the NFL’s anti-tampering rules prior to signing quarterback Kirk Cousins.

The NFL also fined the team $250,000, while general manager Terry Fontenot has been fined $50,000.

The Falcons and Cousins agreed on a four-year, $180 million contract with $100 million guaranteed shortly after the league’s 52-hour legal tampering window opened.

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.

Cousins, who is returning from a torn right Achilles tendon that ended his 2023 season after eight games, indicated he spoke to the team’s medical staff before they were permitted to have contact.

“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.”

Teams are allowed to talk directly with agents — but not the players — during that two-day negotiation period unless the player represents himself.