There’s an Update on Tampering + Kirk Cousins

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

A verdict will arrive soon.

There’s an Update on Tampering + Kirk Cousins

That’s the word from ESPN this weekend regarding the Atlanta Falcons’ alleged sins in signing quarterback Kirk Cousins, who led the Minnesota Vikings for six seasons. Cousins accidentally admitted to tampering in a press conference 2.5 months ago, and the league is expected to render a verdict on the infraction this week.

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“A resolution in the alleged free agent tampering cases of the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles is likely to come this week, per league sources,” Adam Schefter wrote Sunday. “The Falcons have been investigated for the contact they may or may not have had with then-free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins before he signed with Atlanta. The Eagles have been investigated for the contact they may or may not have had with then-free agent running back Saquon Barkley. The NFL has spoken to various members of both organizations.”

Typically when tampering occurs, the tampering team is stripped of draft picks or fined, but Vikings fans — for some reason — have maintained hope the purple team would receive some kind of goodies.

Kirk Cousins
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports.

Schefter added, “One league source indicated that the Falcons’ alleged transgressions are considered more significant, and the discipline is expected to be more severe for Atlanta. In the past, the league has taken tampering seriously and disciplined teams accordingly.”

Cousins said at his introductory press conference in Atlanta back in March, “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 quote proved that Cousins had talked with Atlanta’s brass prematurely. The cat was out of the bag.

Last month, Pioneer Press‘ Charley Walters claimed Minnesota was 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.”

That reporting also excited Minnesota’s faithful, seeming to hint that Minnesota could be somehow involved in the verdict. On rare occasions, the two teams involved and affected by tampering have swapped mid-round draft picks, but there is no proof that will happen this time. Only crossed fingers.

tampering
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In March, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was asked if he 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.”

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.)”

kirk cousins
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports.

The PFT reporting gave legs to theories claiming Minnesota could benefit from Atlanta’s tampering.

On May 7th, Star Tribune‘s Andrew Krammer opined on the situation, “Whatever the punishment, I don’t believe it will directly impact the Vikings beyond possibly moving up a draft spot because the Falcons had to forfeit a pick or two. There is precedent to believe a punishment would solely impact the Falcons, like how the Dolphins forfeited multiple draft picks after the league found they tampered with quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Sean Payton.”

The last major tampering scandal, perpetrated by the Miami Dolphins, led to forfeited 1st- and 3rd-Round picks, plus fines. Miami sought Tom Brady and Sean Payton, and the teams employing Brady + Payton at the time received nothing.


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.

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