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Falcons lose draft pick and fined $250,000 for NFL anti-tampering violation


Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins is shwon during a mandatory minicamp NFL football practice Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins is shwon during a mandatory minicamp NFL football practice Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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The National Football League stripped the Atlanta Falcons from a fifth-round pick in next year's draft.

The NFL made the announcement Thursday noting the Falcons violated the league's anti-tampering rules before signing quarterback Kirk Cousins.

It also stated that the Falcons were fined $250,000, while General Manager Terry Fontenot has also been fined.

We are pleased the review is complete," the Falcons said in a statement. "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.

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.

At the same time, the NFL notified the Philadelphia Eagles that it did violate the same rules when it signed running-back Saquon Barkley.

In coming to this conclusion, the league reviewed phone logs, text messages and other documents related to Philadelphia's free agency strategy and decision to sign Barkley. The NFL also interviewed several members of the organization, including Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni, as well as Barkley and Penn State head coach James Franklin. As with every review, should new evidence be uncovered, the league may reopen the investigation," the league provided in a statement.


Editor's Note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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