NFL Rumors: Why Falcons Reportedly Face Significant Penalty for Kirk Cousins Tampering

The Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles reportedly will be penalized for illegally tampering last month, but one punishment will be more severe.

Over a month after Kirk Cousins signed with the Atlanta Falcons, the cost of acquiring the veteran quarterback could be going up for them.

The NFL has been investigating the Falcons for possibly illegally tampering with Cousins before the official start of free agency. And on Monday morning, ESPN’s Adam Schefter indicated Atlanta could be headed for a steep punishment.

NFL Reportedly Will Punish Falcons and Eagles for Tampering

Whereas the Falcons allegedly tampered with Cousins before the start of free agency, the Philadelphia Eagles allegedly did so with former New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. Punishments for both franchises could be announced this week, according to Schefter.

“The NFL’s investigation into alleged tampering charges against the Falcons for their involvement with then-free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Eagles for their involvement with then-free-agent running back Saquon Barkley is ongoing and could reach a conclusion as early as this week, per sources,” Schefter wrote.

“Sources believe the discipline, which is likely to involve draft picks, is expected to be more severe for the Falcons.”

Schefter then highlighted two recent examples:

  • Miami Dolphins docked 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-round pick for tampering with Tom Brady and Sean Payton from 2019 through 2022.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs docked 2016 third-round pick and 2017 sixth-round pick for tampering with Jeremy Maclin in 2015.

Multiple members from both organizations were also fined.

Why Are the Falcons and Eagles in Trouble?

NFL free agency works in two phases.

The first, known as the “legal tampering period,” enables teams to communicate with agents representing players set to hit unrestricted free agency. Teams can also speak with players not represented by agents. They can’t have direct communications with players who have representation.

The legal tampering period lasts 52 hours, after which all communication is legal, and all free agency deals can be made official. This offseason, the legal tampering period began on Monday, March 11, with free agency officially starting on Wednesday, March 13.

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Cousins’ introductory Falcons news conference took place on that Wednesday. While speaking with reporters, he seemingly revealed illegal communications that took place with Atlant’s staff the previous day.

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

The NFL announced an investigation shortly afterward.

As for the Eagles, they potentially were implicated by Penn State head coach James Franklin, who coached Barkley in college.

During the second day of the legal tampering period, Franklin, speaking to reporters after a Penn State spring practice, indicated Barkley spoke with Philly general manager Howie Roseman before the official start of free agency.

“A Pennsylvania kid who chose to stay home and come to Penn State,” Franklin said of Barkley, who was a star with the Nittany Lions.

“… But for him now to come back and be able to play within the state in Philadelphia, he said that was one of the first things that Howie said to him on the phone as part of his sales pitch to him was not only the Philadelphia Eagles and that, but obviously the connection with Penn State and the fan bases as well.”

The Falcons and Eagles both denied any wrongdoing. But if Schefter’s reporting is accurate, the NFL believes otherwise.

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