Wild Punishment Idea Advanced for Falcons Tampering

Free Agency
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Nope. Wasn’t us. That was the word from the Atlanta Falcons brass two weeks ago regarding tampering allegations involving Kirk Cousins, who joined the franchise as a free agent on March 15th.

Wild Punishment Idea Advanced for Falcons Tampering

Cousins grabbed $180 million over four years from the Falcons, his career’s third chapter after six seasons in Washington and six in Minnesota. And when introduced to the cameras and Falcons fans during free agency week, Cousins basically and accidentally admitted to tampering.

Cousins Critic Does
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The 35-year-old said at his introductory press conference, “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.”

According to an off-the-wall theory from Pro Football Talk‘s Mike Florio, Minnesota could evidently receive the Falcons’ No. 8 pick while Atlanta slid to No. 11.

It was a totally what-if idea, but Florio wrote nevertheless this week, “Or 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.)”

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Even with Florio’s disclaimer, the NFL stealing Atlanta’s draft pick and handing it to Minnesota for the 11th pick seems excessive. The only way it would make sense is if the NFL wanted to send a strong message about tampering in the sport.

After Cousins accidentally mentioned the tampering, Vikings fans’ attention turned to whether the league would actually do anything about it. The NFL is formally investigating the claims, along with Saquon Barkley’s signing in Philadephia.

Per Falcons owner Arthur Blank, though, Cousins’ new team did nothing wrong. Blank said at the NFL’s annual meeting a couple of weeks ago, “The tampering deal, we obviously don’t believe we tampered, and we shared all the information with the league. And they’ll review the process and the facts and they are in the middle of doing that, and whatever the result is, we’ll deal with it.”

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No matter what, Cousins is a Falcon, and that won’t change.

However, the league, in theory, could penalize Atlanta to tune of lost draft picks or capital and perhaps add draft placement to the Vikings — if the commissioner does anything at all. But no one — aside from Florio — expects a 1st-Round pick swap. Such a switch could reasonably arrive from the middle rounds per precedent.

Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell even acknowledged the tampering at the NFL Combine before Cousins signed in Atlanta. “The combine gave everybody else an opportunity, whether they’re supposed to be or not, to maybe have some conversations,” he told Rich Eisen in early March.

Wacky Justin
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Minnesota will play against Cousins this season at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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).

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