Tampering Ordeal Could Have New Angle for Vikings

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Sixty-one days ago, the Atlanta Falcons introduced Kirk Cousins as their new franchise quarterback, and almost immediately, the relationship was peppered with gaffes and turmoil.

Tampering Ordeal Could Have New Angle for Vikings

Cousins accidentally admitted to tampering during the press conference, and the following month, Atlanta mind-bogglingly drafted Cousins’ successor, Michael Penix Jr., from Washington.

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Cousins said at his introductory press conference in Atlanta, “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 P.R. I’m thinking, we got good people here. And that’s exciting to be a part of.”

The unprovoked tampering admission sparked an investigation by the NFL — that is ongoing — and theories from fans and websites like Pro Football Talk that Atlanta could be penalized. Some even mentioned as a starry-eyed scenario that the Vikings could receive draft pick compensation for Atlanta’s alleged sins.

kirk cousins
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports.

Well, last weekend, Pioneer Press‘ Charley Walters claimed the Vikings were right in the mix monitoring and appealing TamperingGate. Walters explained, “There’s whispering that the Vikings have strongly appealed a Falcons tampering charge in the signing of Kirk Cousins that’s expected to end up in arbitration.”

Before the Walters reporting, many believed the Falcons would ultimately be docked a draft pick or something of the sort, and that would be that. However, if Minnesota is “strongly appealing” the fiasco, perhaps it legitimately believes it could achieve an extra pick or at least a pick swap.

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In March, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was asked if was paying attention to the tampering situation, and he replied, “No, and I’ll be honest, that’s kind of above our fray there. But I’ve just been busy trying to work on the roster, work on preparing to try to talk to you fine citizens. Yeah, I’m not aware of any of that stuff.”

There is very little precedent for the affected team to get goodies as the result of a tampering investigation. At best, Minnesota could see a pick swap with Atlanta, probably in the middle rounds.

kirk cousins
March 13, 2024. Newly signed Atlanta Falcons Quarterback K. Cousins sits down with Falcons Digital Producer Taylor Vismor to discuss his signing with the Falcons. Kirk talks about the exciting playmaking roster he is joining and what a move to Atlanta means to him and his family.

A few weeks before the draft, Pro Football Talk‘s Mike Florio wrote, “Maybe the Vikings are quietly holding out hope that the end result of the investigation regarding Atlanta’s blatant tampering with Cousins (and it was blatant, frankly) will result in a flip-flop of picks No. 8 and No. 11. (There’s no specific reason to think that will happen, but it’s not impossible that the league would select this sanction — and announce it literally five minutes before the draft starts.)”

The idea of more picks for Minnesota took off from there.

In the end, the Falcons will likely lose draft capital, or arbitration will lead to a pick swap with the Vikings. Tampering penalties typically result in the perpetrator getting docked. The 2023 Miami Dolphins can tell you all about it.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His MIN obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.