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NFL takes draft pick, fines Falcons for tampering with Kirk Cousins, 2 other players

Mixed emotions from Vikings fans on Kirk Cousins news
Mixed emotions from Vikings fans on Kirk Cousins news 03:19

ATLANTA — The NFL has announced its punishment for the Atlanta Falcons for tampering with former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and two other players.

The league is taking a fifth-round pick in next year's draft from Atlanta, as well as fining the team $250,000 and general manager Terry Fontenot $50,000, the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero said. The team also tampered with wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Charlie Woerner, per Pelissero.

Tampering refers to making contact with a potential signee outside of the windows allowed by the league. Cousins' agent announced his deal with the Falcons about two-and-a-half hours after the NFL's free agent negotiating window opened in March.

During the negotiating window, players and their agents can talk to teams, but are forbidden from visiting teams. During his introductory news conference with Atlanta, Cousins had a slip of the tongue that may have made league officials' ears perk up.

"You look around and you think, 'Boy, 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.'"

The NFL Network reported Cousins' deal with the Falcons is for four years and $180 million, though only $100 million is guaranteed. 

Cousins played six seasons with the Vikings, making the playoffs twice and winning one postseason game. The Vikings signed former first-round pick Sam Darnold and took J.J. McCarthy 10th overall in April's draft to replace Cousins.

Note: The video above originally aired March 11, 2024.

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