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Falcons lose fifth-round pick in 2025 after fines for violating NFL tampering policy

NFC quarterback Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings throws a pass during the Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando^ Fla. Jan 26^ 2020; Orlando^ FL USA

The NFL announced Thursday that the Atlanta Falcons have been penalized for improperly pursuing quarterback Kirk Cousins, whom the Falcons signed to a 4-year, $180 million contract at the start of 2024 NFL free agency just three months ago.

The NFL stated that the Falcons “had improper contact” with Cousins and other free agents, requiring the Falcons to forfeit a 2025 fifth-round draft pick and pay a $250,000 fine. Per ESPN, the tampering violations for the Falcons with three players prior to their official unrestricted free agency period include Cousins, wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Charlie Woerner. Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot has also been fined $50,000 for the violations, the NFL announced, which included improper communications with Mooney and Woerner.

Cousinsindicated 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. 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 — unless the player represents himself and doesn’t have an agent. The NFL shared in a statement: “While the (NFL’s tampering) 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. This includes discussion of travel arrangements or other logistical matters, which the club acknowledges took place with regard to these three players.”

The Falcons said in a statement: “We are pleased this review is complete. 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.” 

Editorial credit: Steve Jacobson /

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