Atlanta Falcons lose pick, fined over tampering violation

Quarterback Kirk Cousins #18 of the Atlanta Falcons speaks to the media during OTA offseason workouts at the Atlanta Falcons training facility on May 14, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The NFL is punishing the Atlanta Falcons for violating the league's tampering policies before signing quarterback Kirk Cousins and other players.

On Thursday, the NFL announced that they had informed the Atlanta Falcons the team would be disciplined over the policy violation.

As part of the discipline, the Falcons will forfeit its original fifth-round draft pick in the 2025 NFL Draft and pay a fine of $250,000.

Falcons General Manager Terry Fontenor has also been fined $50,000.  

NFL investigates Falcons' signing of Kirk Cousins 

The Falcons signed Cousins, the former Minnesota quarterback, on the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period. The agreement was reached so quickly after teams were allowed to begin negotiating with free agents, there were questions whether the Falcons violated tampering policies.

Teams are permitted to talk directly with agents during the 52-hour negotiating window. Teams can’t speak to the player unless he has no agent and represents himself.

When discussing his decision to sign with Atlanta, Cousins appeared to indicate he had been in communication with team officials one day before it was allowed.

 "There’s great people here. 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," Cousins told reporters shortly after his contract was announced.

Along with Cousins, the league also pointed to the team's discussions with wide receiver Darnell Mooney, and tight end Charlie Woerner during the two-day negotiating period.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.