National Football League
Falcons docked 5th-round pick for tampering; Eagles cleared after investigation
National Football League

Falcons docked 5th-round pick for tampering; Eagles cleared after investigation

Updated Jun. 13, 2024 11:55 a.m. ET

The Atlanta Falcons were stripped of a fifth-round pick in the 2025 draft on Thursday for violating the NFL's anti-tampering rules prior to signing quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Charlie Woerner

In addition to losing the draft pick, the Falcons were fined $250,000 and general manager Terry Fontenot was fined $50,000. 

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 in March.

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 that 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.

"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."

The Falcons also signed Mooney and Woerner at the start of free agency. Mooney received a three-year, $39 million deal with $26 million guaranteed while Woerner signed a three-year, $13 million pact to join Atlanta.

"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."

Is the Michael Penix Jr. draft pick actually justifiable for Atlanta?

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles won't be punished for tampering, as a league investigation determined that the team didn't do anything wrong. Saquon Barkley's signing with Philadelphia came into question after Penn State coach James Franklin implied that Eagles general manager Howie Roseman contacted the running back during the "legal tampering" window.

"In coming to this conclusion, the league reviewed phone logs, text messages and other documents related to Philadelphia's free agent strategy and decision to sign Barkley," the league said in its statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more