NFL: Falcons, Eagles tampering probes won't conclude this week

ByMarc Raimondi ESPN logo
Tuesday, April 23, 2024

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The NFL's investigation into alleged tampering by the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles remains ongoing and will not be concluded this week, the league said Tuesday.

So if either team is found to have violated league tampering rules and loses draft picks, those selections will not come from this week's draft. The Eagles and Falcons each have eight picks in the 2024 draft.

The Falcons are being investigated for allegedly being in direct contact with Kirk Cousins, formerly with the Minnesota Vikings, before they were legally allowed to according to league rules.

Cousins ended up signing with the Falcons on a four-year contract worth up to $180 million on the first day of official free agency last month.

The Eagles are being investigated for alleged tampering regarding their signing of Saquon Barkley, who had previously played for the New York Giants.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday that the Falcons are facing discipline that is likely to involve draft picks and is expected to be more severe than the Eagles' punishment.

Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot was asked about the investigation and the likelihood it won't conclude this week at a news conference Tuesday.

"The league has been very communicative with us and throughout the whole process," Fontenot said. "Really appreciate them. And we've obviously cooperated, provided all the information. Again, not really an update from our end in regards to that. We'll just continue to cooperate and control what you can control. We'll get ready for this draft."

During Cousins' introductory news conference, he indicated he spoke with the Falcons' head trainer before 4 p.m. ET on March 13, when the new league year began. Teams are allowed to speak only with agents during the 52-hour free agent negotiating window from until the start of the new league year. But they cannot speak with players directly unless the player represents himself and doesn't have an agent. Cousins is represented by Mike McCartney of Vayner Sports.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said last month at the NFL's annual meeting that he does not think his team committed any violation.

"The tampering deal, we obviously don't believe we tampered, and we shared all the information with the league," Blank said. "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."

Penn State football coach James Franklin told a reporter that Eagles general manager Howie Roseman spoke to Barkley and pitched him on the connection between the Eagles and Nittany Lions fan bases. Barkley, at his introductory news conference with the Eagles, said Franklin "misinterpreted" the situation.

Last year, the NFL announced a resolution to a tampering investigation of the Arizona Cardinals' hiring of head coach Jonathan Gannon right before the start of the 2023 draft. The Cardinals and Eagles settled the charges by trading third-round picks in last year's draft. Arizona gave up the 66th overall pick for Philadelphia's 94th overall pick, and the Cardinals received a fifth-round pick in the 2024 draft from the Eagles.

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