Falcons Lose 2025 NFL Draft Pick For QB Kirk Cousins, Free Agent Contracts Tampering

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Atlanta Falcons Lose 2025 NFL Draft Pick For QB Kirk Cousins, Free Agent Contracts Tampering

The Atlanta Falcons on Thursday were docked a fifth-round pick in the 2025 NFL draft and fined $250,000 for violating the NFL’s anti-tampering policy related to free agent signings.

Atlanta Falcons had improper contact with Kirk Cousins, Darnell Mooney, and Charlie Woerner

The tampering violations for the Falcons were a result of “improper contact” with three players prior to their unrestricted free agency period: quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receiver Darnell Mooney, and tight end Charlie Woerner.

According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the league also fined Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot $50,000. Cousins signed a four-year deal worth up to $180 million on the first official day of free agency.

Afterwards, he indicated during his introductory news conference that he spoke with the Falcons’ head trainer before 4 p.m. ET on March 13, when the new league year began.

Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts said on March 13 that he started recruiting Cousins to Atlanta weeks before free agency commenced.

NFL teams are allowed to speak only with agents during the 52-hour free agent negotiating window after the start of the new league year and cannot speak directly with players.

That is unless the player represents himself and doesn’t have an agent. Cousins is represented by Mike McCartney, who had announced on social media two days prior to the start of the new league year that the quarterback had agreed to terms with the Falcons.

NFL found evidence that travel arrangements, other logistical matters occurred between team and free agents

“While the policy permits clubs to engage with and negotiate all aspects of an NFL player contract with the certified agent of any prospective unrestricted free agent during the two-day negotiating period, any direct contact between the player and an employee or representative of the club is prohibited,” the NFL said in a statement.

“This includes discussion of travel arrangements or other logistical matters, which the club acknowledges took place with regard to these three players.”

Mooney signed a three-year, $39 million deal with Atlanta, and Woerner inked a three-year, $12 million contract.

“We are pleased this 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.”

Philadelphia Eagles are cleared of tampering after signing running back Saquon Barkley

Meanwhile, the league cleared the Philadelphia Eagles of tampering after signing running back Saquon Barkley this offseason.

The NFL did not discover sufficient evidence to support a finding that the anti-tampering policy was violated by the Eagles in the lead-up to signing Barkley.

Furthermore, the Eagles denied having impermissible contact with Barkley, stating that all recruiting carried out by the team is facilitated through the agent.

Barkley said Franklin “misinterpreted” how the Eagles went about recruiting him.

“In coming to this conclusion, the league reviewed phone logs, text messages and other documents related to Philadelphia’s free agency and decision to sign Barkley,” the league said in a statement.

“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.”

Unlike the Falcons, the Eagles did not have contact with free agents before 4 p.m. ET on March 13. Timing is everything for teams during the NFL offseason.