NFL docks Falcons draft pick, fines team $250K for tampering in free agency

The NFL found that Atlanta violated the league's anti-tampering policy with Kirk Cousins and two other players.

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The Atlanta Falcons were docked a 2025 fifth-round draft pick and fined $250,000 by the NFL for violating the league's anti-tampering policy.

The league found that there were "logistical violations" related to Falcons' signings of quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Charlier Woerner.

"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 explained 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."

In addition to the lost draft pick and team fine, Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot was fined $50,000.

"We are pleased this review is compete," the Falcons said in a team statement. "We cooperated fully with the league and its review, and appreciate the league's thoroughness. As we do with every process, we will review how we operate and look for ways to improve."

Cousins signed a four-year contract with the Falcons worth up to $180 million on March 11, two days before the start of the new league year. At his introductory press conference, Cousins indicated that he talked with the Falcons' head trainer prior to the start of the league year.

Teams are not allowed to speak directly with players during the 52-hour free agent negotiating window at the start of a new league year. Instead, they are allowed to speak with agents. Cousins is represented by Mike McCartney.

The NFL did not find evidence that the Falcons contacted players or their representatives prior to the free agency negotiating window.

As for the other players, Mooney went from the Chicago Bears to the Falcons in free agency on a three-year, $39 million deal. Woerner inked a three-year, $12 million contract with the Falcons after spending his first four NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.

In a separate investigation, the NFL cleared the Philadelphia Eagles of tampering allegations with running back Saquon Barkley.

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