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    Falcons Lose 5th-Round Pick, Fined $250,000 for Tampering With Kirk Cousins and Others, While Eagles Avoid Punishment With Saquon Barkley

    The NFL's tampering investigations of the Falcons and Eagles have been completed, with one team punished and the other emerging unscathed.

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    The NFL‘s tampering investigations into both the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles have finally wrapped up, with two different conclusions reached. Atlanta was penalized for violating anti-tampering guidelines, while there was not sufficient evidence to support that Philadelphia broke the rules.

    Let’s break down the league’s decisions in both cases.

    NFL Announces Falcons’ Tampering Punishment

    The Falcons have been docked a fifth-round pick in the 2025 NFL Draft for violating the league’s anti-tampering policy with Kirk Cousins, Darnell Mooney, and Charlie Woerner. The team is also being fined $250,000, and general manager Terry Fontenot is being fined $50,000.

    The NFL considers the violations to be logistical/administrative, including direct communication with players during the two-day negotiating period when communication is only allowed between teams and agents.

    Atlanta apparently acknowledged discussing travel arrangements or other logistical matters with the three players, which violates those rules.

    Discipline for the violations was less harsh in part because they occurred within the legal negotiating period and only after the Falcons had legally agreed to terms with the players.

    Alarms were raised after Cousins made comments during his introductory press conference that indicated he might have been in contact with the Falcons prior to being legally able to do so. It doesn’t appear that the NFL found that to be the case within its investigation.

    The Falcons released a statement addressing the investigation’s conclusion:

    “We are pleased this review is complete. We cooperated fully with the league and its review, and appreciate the NFL’s thoroughness. As we do with every process, we will review how we operate and look for ways to improve.”

    No Penalty for Eagles Due to Insufficient Evidence

    Philadelphia, on the other hand, did not face any penalties, as the NFL deemed there wasn’t sufficient evidence that the franchise violated the guidelines in the process of signing Saquon Barkley.

    The NFL’s official statement on the matter says it informed the Eagles today that the league’s investigation “did not discover sufficient evidence to support a finding that the Anti-Tampering Policy was violated.”

    The league says it reviewed phone logs, text messages, and other documents related to Philadelphia’s free agency strategy and decision to sign Barkley. It also interviewed Barkley, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, head coach Nick Sirianni, and Penn State head coach James Franklin.

    Franklin’s comments initially raised alarm bells since he seemed to suggest that Barkley had direct contact with Roseman before it was permitted. Barkley later dismissed Franklin’s quotes as misinterpreting the situation.

    The NFL doesn’t seem to have found enough evidence to the contrary to warrant punishing Philadelphia for any potential rules violations.

    Why Were the Falcons and Eagles Being Investigated for Tampering?

    The Falcons were charged with tampering after Cousins made a few questionable comments during his introductory press conference. He seemed to admit to having illegal contact with Atlanta’s athletic trainer and the head of public relations during the legal tampering window.

    It’s not much of a surprise — rumors tied Cousins to Atlanta for several days leading up to the official start of free agency this offseason. There was certainly plenty of smoke surrounding Cousins and the Falcons. There was plenty of fire as well.

    While Cousins made the seeming admission himself, that wasn’t the case with Barkley and the Eagles. Franklin mentioned that the star running back had direct contact with Roseman during the legal tampering period, which isn’t permitted.

    Similar to Cousins’ situation in Atlanta, there was plenty of smoke surrounding Barkley and the Eagles possibly working out a deal before it could be made official. The reports leading up to each signing and the unintentional comments following them likely forced the NFL into investigating the matters.

    Kirk Cousins’ Contract Details With the Falcons

    Despite suffering a season-ending torn Achilles in Week 8 last season, Cousins still landed a monstrous deal in free agency. Atlanta signed him to a four-year, $180 million contract, including $100 million in total guaranteed money.

    At $45 million per year, Cousins is currently the eighth-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. While guaranteed money is essentially what matters most during contract negotiations, it’s clear that the Falcons still view Cousins as a quality quarterback, despite his Achilles injury.

    Atlanta has built an impressive offensive roster in recent years, with already having several pieces to put around Cousins. Yet, the franchise was missing that star QB and is banking on Cousins to fill that void in 2024 and beyond.

    Curiously, the Falcons also drafted quarterback Michael Penix Jr. in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

    Saquon Barkley’s Contract Details With the Eagles

    While one person notoriously believed there was a 0.0% chance that the Eagles would sign Barkley, the two sides agreed to a massive deal at the start of free agency. Philadelphia signed him to a three-year, $37,750,000 contract, including $26 million in total guaranteed money.

    Although the Eagles have been reluctant to pay significant money to running backs in recent years, the franchise broke that trend in 2024. Roseman clearly views Barkley as more than just a running back, given his receiving ability and leadership qualities both on and off the field.

    Despite being regarded as one of the best running backs in the NFL, Barkley sits right outside the top three in terms of average salary per year. At $12.6 million annually, Barkley sits behind Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor and ahead of Green Bay Packers running back Josh Jacobs.

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