NFL Investigating Eagles and Falcons for Potential Tampering in Signings of Saquon Barkley, Kirk Cousins

The Eagles and Falcons made big moves in signing Saquon Barkley and Kirk Cousins, respectively, but they're now being looked into for potential tampering.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons pulled off two of the biggest moves of free agency this week in signing Saquon Barkley and Kirk Cousins, respectively. The two franchises have since faced tampering allegations, however, and the NFL is now officially looking into both moves.

NFL Looking Into Potential Tampering by Eagles, Falcons

The NFL is “looking into potential tampering” by the Eagles and Falcons prior to the start of free agency “based upon recent public comments related to each matter,” according to NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero.

Both teams quickly agreed to deals with Barkley and Cousins on Monday, the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period.

Barkley agreed to a three-year deal worth up to $46.75 million in total and $26 million guaranteed at signing with Philadelphia. Cousins, meanwhile, earned a monster payday with the Falcons as he agreed to a four-year contract worth up to $180 million with $100 million guaranteed.

Communication during the 52-hour tampering period that ended Wednesday at 4 p.m. EST has to take place between teams and a player’s agent, unless a player is representing himself or has no agent.

Controversy has since ensued around both signings due to public comments indicating Cousins and Barkley may have been in direct conversation with their new teams before being allowed to do so.

In Barkley’s case, the comments came from James Franklin, who coached Barkley during his standout collegiate playing days at Penn State.

Franklin mentioned a discussion between Barkley and Eagles general manager Howie Roseman when asked about Barkley’s signing during a press conference on Tuesday.

“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,” Franklin told reporters. “Not only the Philadelphia Eagles and that, but obviously the connection with Penn State and the fan bases as well.”

Philadelphia has since denied violating the NFL’s tampering rules, as reported by ESPN’s Tim McManus. A team spokesman told McManus at the time that he was unaware of any contact between the NFL and the Eagles about potential rule violations.

As for the Falcons’ signing of Cousins, tampering allegations have arisen from the QB’s own comments during his introductory press conference on Wednesday night.

“There’s great people here, and it’s not just the football team,” Cousins told reporters. “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.”

Those comments seem to be as close to a direct admission of violating tampering rules as it gets with Cousins directly referencing talks with team personnel before they were permitted.

Still, it’s unclear whether the Eagles or Falcons will ultimately face consequences from these comments, or how serious the ramifications might be.

KEEP READING: What Is Tampering in the NFL?

Tampering has been punished to varying degrees in the past, with fines issued to some teams and loss of draft picks for others, depending on the situation and severity of allegations.

Time will tell what comes of the NFL looking into the matters and whether penalties are ultimately doled out to Philadelphia and Atlanta.

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