NFL fines Falcons $250K, forfeits 2025 draft pick for Kirk Cousins tampering

The NFL is fining the Atlanta Falcons $250,000 and forcing the forfeiture of a 2025 fifth round draft pick for tampering with Kirk Cousins during free agency.

The league handed the ruling down Thursday, noting the Falcons had improper contact with Cousins, Darnell Mooney and Charlier Woerner during the two-day negotiating window. Atlanta GM Terry Fontenot was also fined $50,000.

"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. This includes discussion of travel arrangements or other logistical matters, which the club acknowledges took place with regard to these three players," a league statement said.

Just hours after NFL free agency opened in March, Cousins and the Falcons agreed to a four-year, $180 million contract, with $100 million guaranteed. That fueled speculation that the two sides had spoken before the two-day negotiating window opened.

Cousins even told reporters at his introductory news conference that he spoke with Atlanta staff and team trainers before signing with the Falcons.

Cousins spent six seasons with the Vikings, coming to Minnesota in free agency in 2018 on a three-year, $84 million fully-guaranteed contract. In six seasons with the Vikings, he as 50-37-1 in 88 starts and threw for more than 23,000 yards, with 171 touchdowns and 55 interceptions. He was a three-time Pro Bowl pick, but won just one playoff game in Minnesota.

His season ended last year at Green Bay after suffering a torn right Achilles. At the time, he was one of the top passers in the NFL.