Falcons Expected To Face More Significant Tampering Punishment Than Eagles

11:39am: The NFL will not conclude its tampering investigation this week, per a league announcement. That will mean any punishment the Falcons or Eagles face would not take effect until the 2025 draft. Should a penalty come down, both NFC teams will have more time to prepare.

8:48am: Arthur Blank said he did not believe the Falcons tampered with Kirk Cousins, but it does seem likely the team will face a punishment of some sort in the wake of its high-profile quarterback addition.

After Cousins committed to the Falcons during a span referred to as the legal tampering period, multiple comments from the 13th-year QB point to Atlanta being early on communicating with its next starter. No punishment has been handed out, but as last year’s Jonathan Gannon resolution reminded, the NFL could attempt to bury the headline by levying a penalty on draft day.

Some around the NFL expect the Falcons to face more severe tampering punishment compared to the Eagles, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. Punishment for the Falcons’ alleged tampering with Cousins is expected to involve Atlanta’s draft. The results of the NFL’s investigation into the Falcons and Eagles could emerge this week, per Schefter. If it involves 2024 draft choices, it will obviously need to.

The NFL’s investigation into Philadelphia tampering centers around Saquon Barkley, though fewer signs of impermissible communication emerged from the team’s addition of the six-year Giants running back compared to the six-year Viking’s relocation. Cousins said he spoke with Falcons medical personnel before officially signing. Cousins also said during his introductory presser he offered to call Darnell Mooney to make a pitch on the NFC South team’s behalf. With Mooney committing to the Falcons on Day 2 of the legal tampering period, Cousins — whose deal could not become official until a day later — was not allowed to make this pitch under league rules.

The Cardinals’ pursuit of Gannon involving impermissible contact led the league to adjust their draft haul, with the penalty being announced minutes before Round 1 began. Philadelphia received the No. 66 pick in the draft, while the NFL gave the Cardinals Nos. 94 and a 2024 fifth-rounder. That being a situation where one team expected to retain its defensive coordinator, only to see him defect to Arizona, the punishment involved adjusting two teams’ draft hauls. Potential Falcons punishment should not be expected to involve the Vikings.

A past tampering violation could point to where the NFL will go on this front. The league stripped the Chiefs of their 2016 third-rounder and a 2017 sixth for their 2015 Jeremy Maclin addition. That punishment, which also involved Andy Reid and then-GM John Dorsey being fined five-figure amounts, affecting the Chiefs’ draft haul a year out would at least point to the league giving the Falcons time to prepare.

While the NFL came down much harder on the Dolphins for their Tom Brady/Sean Payton tampering scheme, it would surprise if any Falcons punishment reached that place due to the details behind the Miami effort. The league docked Miami first- and third-round picks, the latter coming this year, for attempting to unite a then-retired Brady — whose rights still belonged to the Bucs — and Payton, whose rights belonged to the Saints.

As for this draft, the Falcons hold their own first- and second-round picks but carry two third-rounders (Nos. 74 and 79) as a result of the Jaguars’ Calvin Ridley conclusion. If the NFL is to target this Falcons draft arsenal with regards to a Cousins-driven penalty, Round 3 could be an area to monitor based on the recent past.

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