Salty Mike Florio Rips NFL for Falcons Tampering Penalty

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio strongly expressed his displeasure with the NFL's decision to only fine and dock the Atlanta Falcons a fifth-round pick for tampering allegations.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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The fix is in. At least that's the case according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.

The NFL insider argued the league gave the Atlanta Falcons preferential treatment with the decision strip the team of a 2025 fifth-round pick on Thursday. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported the league is taking away that draft pick as punishment for "improper contact" with unrestricted free agents Kirk Cousins, Darnell Mooney and Charlie Woerner this offseason.

The Falcons also received a $250,000 fine, and the league fined Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot $50,000.

But Florio argued that based on logic, common sense and precedent, the league's punishment didn't met the Falcons' crime.

"Eight years ago, the league stripped a third-round pick from the Chiefs for speaking directly to one player — Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin — during the pre-free agency negotiating window," wrote Florio.

"Either the league has changed its outlook on tampering, or the Falcons got a pass because team executive Rich McKay is the chair of the competition committee. Or, possibly, the league doesn’t want to draw too much attention to cheating, at a time when more and more people believe the fix is in.

"Two years ago, the Dolphins lost a first-round pick and a third-round pick for tampering with Sean Payton and Tom Brady, and Miami ultimately employed neither guy."

Florio's displeasure with the league's punishment for the Falcons may be sincere. Other media pundits such as CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin agreed with Florio's assertion that the NFL didn't met their previously set precedent for tampering violations.

But Florio can't be viewed as a completely objective reporter with this story either. Florio is a self-proclaimed Minnesota Vikings fan and could be simply upset his team lost its Pro Bowl starting quarterback in free agency.

Secondly, it's strongly possible, even likely, that Florio's sources on what Atlanta's punishment should have been were from within the Vikings organization. As it turned out, those one-sided sources were wrong, and as a result, so was Florio.

Pelissero reported that the league concluded that the Falcons' violations of the league's anti-tampering policy were considered "logistical/administrative." The Falcons made travel arrangements directly with players during the negotiating window when the team was only supposed to be communicating with players' agents.

In summary, based on the league's investigation, the Falcons didn't even really tamper. Their violation was "improper contact."

But Florio didn't stop doubling down Thursday.

If Florio has any sources that confirm the Falcons had non-travel arrangement discussions with Cousins, Mooney or Woerner, then the NFL can reopen the investigation at any time.

But for now, the Falcons have received their punishment. It's time to move on.

Dave Holcomb


Dave is a staff writer at Falcon Report. He also writes at Yardbarker, Southern Pigskin, Cox Media, and Rotowire. Follow him on Twitter @dmholcomb.