The Bizarre Part of the Kirk Cousins Tampering Verdict for Vikings

kirk cousins
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It was all for nothing.

The Bizarre Part of the Kirk Cousins Tampering Verdict for Vikings

Some NFL-themed websites spent about three months banging the drum for the Minnesota Vikings as a beneficiary of the Atlanta Falcons’ tampering antics involving Kirk Cousins. That is — some believed Minnesota would receive draft picks or something of the sort as payment for the Falcons’ sins.

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Alas, NFL Network‘s Tom Pelissero tweeted Thursday, “The NFL is docking the Falcons a 2025 fifth-round pick for violating the league’s anti-tampering policy with Kirk Cousins, Darnell Mooney and Charlie Woerner. The team is also being fined $250,000 and GM Terry Fontenot is being fined $50,000.”

He added, “The violations are considered logistical/administrative, such as making travel arrangements after players agreed to terms, and did not involve contact prior to the negotiating window, per sources.”

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The punishment, all things considered, is incredibly lean. A late-round draft pick — those rarely pan out anyway — and 250,000 bucks is actually a humongous nothingburger in NFL-speak. In fact, the bizarre part for the Vikings and other NFL teams is that tampering can almost be encouraged.

It is unclear if Atlanta encountered or anticipated a bidding war for Cousins’ services in free agency, but if so, a 5th-Rounder and some cash were emphatically worth the squeeze, especially if the Falcons wholeheartedly loved Cousins and identified him as “their guy.” When free agency rolls around in 2025, when the Vikings are equipped with an impressive satchel of available cap space, you should want the team’s front office to tamper with one of the league’s top stars. The NFL’s tampering verdict for Atlanta proved the comeuppance is worth cheating.

Kirk Cousins Out
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Before the 2024 NFL Draft, Pro Football Talk‘s Mike Florio wrote about the Vikings’ angle in the tampering ordeal: “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.)”

Nothing even remotely resembling Florio’s comments turned out to be true. Minnesota received nothing — nothing at all — and PFT acted as a leading voice suggesting the Vikings could receive goodies due to the investigation.

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Instead, general managers gained a greenlight to tamper. Cousins, based on his QB1 position, was considered the top free agent on the market, and if all it takes is a 5th-Rounder and change to grab that caliber player each offseason, clubs should tamper their hearts out.

Tampering does not irk the NFL’s brass all that much, and the affected team rarely experiences justice. Minnesota was no different. One could argue that the Falcons’ strategy was smart.

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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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