The Minnesota Vikings will never get their starting QB back from the Atlanta Falcons, but they appear on the cusp of a different, lesser sort of retribution.

Falcons Face Likely Discipline After Kirk Cousins Tampering Allegations: Report



The Minnesota Vikings will never get their starting QB back from the Atlanta Falcons, but they appear on the cusp of a different, lesser sort of retribution.


Adam Schefter of ESPN reported on Monday, April 22 that the NFL is nearing the end of its investigation into the Falcons for allegedly tampering with former Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins while he was a free agent, and that the punishment Atlanta faces could be significant.


“The NFL’s investigation into alleged tampering charges against the Falcons for their involvement with then-free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins and the [Philadelphia] Eagles for their involvement with then-free agent running back Saquon Barkley is ongoing and could reach a conclusion as early as this week, per sources,” Schefter wrote. “Sources believe the discipline, which is likely to involve draft picks, [will] be more severe for the Falcons.”



Though they may not have direct bearing on whatever punishment Atlanta faces if found culpable by the league, Schefter noted a couple of recent disciplinary actions the NFL handed down to other franchises after finding them guilty of tampering accusations of a similar nature.


The Miami Dolphins lost a first-rounder in 2023 and a fourth-round pick this year for tampering that involved retired QB Tom Brady and now Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton “on three occasions” between 2019-22. The league also levied fines totaling $2 million against Dolphins owner Stephen Ross ($1.5 million) and Bruce Beal ($500,000), the team’s vice chairman/limited partner, per Schefter.


The NFL revoked a third-round pick in 2016 as well as a sixth-rounder the following year from the Kansas City Chiefs due to tampering that involved wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in 2015. Fines were also a part of that punishment, as the team ended up paying $250,000, while head coach Andy Reid incurred a $75,000 fine and then-general manager John Dorsey paid $25,000.




Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell was open during the NFL Combine, which the league held approximately two weeks before the official beginning of free agency, about Minnesota’s belief that tampering involving Cousins was ongoing.


“I know Kirk is going to go through a full process. He’s a process guy. And hopefully we continue to be a strong part in that process and we figure out a way to keep him a Minnesota Viking.” – Head Coach Kevin O’Connell on


“The combine gave everybody else an opportunity, whether they’re supposed to be or not, to maybe have some conversations,” O’Connell said during an appearance on NFL Network.


Cousins ultimately signed a four-year deal with the Falcons for $180 million. The Vikings were probably never going to match that offer, which makes Atlanta’s tampering — if it actually occurred, which Schefter’s reporting indicates that the league believes it did — somewhat, if not entirely, unnecessary.


Even still, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk characterized what the Falcons did involving Cousins as “the most blatant case of tampering” he has ever encountered in his time covering the league.


“Tampering is such a key part of the NFL and it happens all the time,” Florio said on the March 20 edition of the ‘What The Football Podcast’. “But there’s a certain element of discretion that gets applied where you don’t just make clear to the world that you tampered with this guy. And the Falcons’ pursuit of Kirk Cousins, to me, is the most blatant case of tampering I’ve ever seen.”


Without Cousins in the locker room, Minnesota resorted to signing San Francisco 49ers backup Sam Darnold to a one-year deal and is now scrambling to find a franchise QB in this week’s NFL draft, which could require a trade into the top five that might cost the Vikings as much as three first-round picks, or even more.



Gideon Canice

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