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Did Kirk Cousins just reveal the Falcons tampered with him?

Kyle Pitts apparently texted Cousins weeks before free agency opened.
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Kirk Cousins may have fumbled on his first day as an official member of the Atlanta Falcons. 

During his introductory press conference, Cousins stated that Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts reached out to him weeks ago and that he had direct contact with one of Atlanta's trainers before the NFL's new league year began at 3 p.m. CT Wednesday.

According to the NFL's tampering rules, teams can only make contact with a player's agent during the two-day "legal negotiating" period that started at 11 a.m. CT Monday. 

"Kyle was probably the first, if I can remember, back a few weeks, he was recruiting," Cousins said Wednesday night, noting that he was at Disney World with his family when Pitts texted him. "It's always fun to be wanted and so I appreciated that and he did a great job kind of leading the charge."

Cousins said Pitts' texted said something along the lines of, 'We're ready for you to take us to the promised land.'"

Here's what he said to indicate that he spoke to the head trainer on Tuesday: “There’s great people here,” Cousins said. “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.”

Cousins agreed to a four-year, $180 million deal with $100 million guaranteed only about 90 minutes after the two-day negotiating period began. 

Here's why PItts may have violated the league's tampering rule.

"No club, nor any person employed by or otherwise affiliated with a club, is permitted to tamper with a player who is under contract to or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by another club," the NFL's rule states. 

Here's what the NFL says about the two-day negotiating period. 

"Notwithstanding the foregoing, during the period that begins two calendar days prior to the expiration of NFL Player Contracts (the 'Two-Day Negotiating Period'), clubs are permitted to contact the certified agents of players who will be Unrestricted Free Agents at the end of the current League Year and enter into contract negotiations with them. A contract, however, cannot be executed with a new club, or submitted to the League office, until after the beginning of the new League Year. During this two-day period, a prospective Unrestricted Free Agent cannot visit a club (other than his current club) at its permanent facility or at any other location, and no direct contact is permitted between the player and any employee or representative of a club (other than his current club)."

Will the Falcons be punished for it? It's happened before. 

In 2016 the Chiefs were docked a third-round pick for talking to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin during the legal negotiating period. In 2015, the Jets were fined $100,000 for tampering with Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis. In 2022, the Dolphins were fined and had to give up first- and third-round draft picks for tampering with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Saints head coach Sean Payton. 

Penalties could assessed to Atlanta, but it's up to the NFL to make a move. 

Kirk Cousins during his opening press conference with the Atlanta Falcons on March 13, 2024.

Kirk Cousins during his opening press conference with the Atlanta Falcons on March 13, 2024.