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Falcons lose 5th-round pick for tampering with Cousins

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The NFL docked the Atlanta Falcons a 2025 fifth-round pick for violating the league's anti-tampering policy with quarterback Kirk Cousins, receiver Darnell Mooney, and tight end Charlie Woerner, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Atlanta also has to pay a $250,000 fine, and general manager Terry Fontenot received a $50,000 fine.

The violations are considered logistical and administrative, such as making travel arrangements after players agreed to terms, sources told Pelissero. The league said Atlanta's violations took place during the two-day negotiating window just before free agency officially started in March, notes Pelissero.

"We're pleased this review is complete," the Falcons said in a statement Thursday. "We cooperated fully with the league and its review and appreciate the NFL's thoroughness. As we do with every process, we will review how we operate and look for ways to improve."

The NFL also announced it won't discipline the Philadelphia Eagles following the league's investigation into the NFC East club's signing of former New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley for potential tampering.

"The investigation did not discover sufficient evidence to support a finding that the anti-tampering policy was violated," the NFL said in a statement, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. "In coming to this conclusion, the league reviewed phone logs, text messages, and other documents related to Philadelphia's free agency strategy and decision to sign Barkley."

The league investigated the Eagles and Falcons for weeks.

Cousins helped spark the NFL's review by revealing during his introductory presser in March that he spoke with the Falcons' trainer and head of public relations a day before the start of free agency.

Barkley also joined Philadelphia in March. Penn State head coach James Franklin - the tailback's former coach on the Nittany Lions - suggested that Eagles general manager Howie Roseman spoke directly to Barkley during the league's legal tampering period. Philly denied any wrongdoing at the time, as NFL teams aren't allowed to contact players directly in that period unless the player doesn't have an agent and represents himself.

"The NFL also interviewed several members of the organization, including Howie Roseman and (head coach) Nick Sirianni, as well as Barkley and Penn State head coach James Franklin," the NFL statement read. "As with every review, should new evidence be uncovered, the league may reopen the investigation."

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