Cardinals-Eagles Tampering Settlement Could Point to Vikings Landing Top-10 Pick

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Minnesota Vikings

Getty General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings currently hold picks Nos. 11 and 23 in the first round of the 2024 draft.

However, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio believes Minnesota should come away with the No. 8 overall pick. That is if the NFL finds that former Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins had impermissible contact with Atlanta Falcons players and staff before free agency.

Cousins seemed to allude to said contact during his introductory press conference. He agreed to a four-year, $180 million contract during the early negotiating period.

“If the NFL is serious about getting to the truth, an investigation that makes the blatant tampering even more clear should not require many steps,” Florio wrote on April 12. “The Falcons have the eighth pick in round one. The Vikings have the eleventh. What if the punishment is as simple as the Falcons and Vikings flip-flopping the two picks?

“The NFL set the precedent last year, with the sudden and unexpected news of the CardinalsEagles settlement. It would make sense for it to happen again, between the Falcons and the Vikings.”

Vikings general manager said he was unaware of the status of the investigation during a press conference on March 14.

Cousins said during his presser that he spoke with the Falcons training staff before free agency.

The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback also spoke with Director of Player Personnel Ryan Pace and helped recruit receiver Darnell Mooney. He may have also had contact with tight end Kyle Pitts.

Florio notes that Falcons CEO Rich McKay’s presence has created some doubt. He points to the Falcons receiving a lesser penalty in 2015 for simulating crowd noise than the San Francisco 49ers were for overpaying a player by $75,000.

Past Tampering Precedent Might Not Inform Vikings’ Future

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

GettyKirk Cousins of the Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta was fined $350,000 and surrendered their fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft. McKay was also suspended for three weeks as part of the league-mandated punishment. The NFL determined he was unaware of the violation in real-time.

The league found the 49ers’ error from 2022. They dropped the 49ers’ fourth-round pick this year from No. 131 to No. 135 and docked them a fifth-round pick in 2025.

Arizona and Philly swapped the 66th and 94th overall picks over the former’s tampering with now-head coach Jonathan Gannon.

The former also received a fifth-round pick in 2025 while the latter paid a $250,000 fine. But that is still a far cry from what Florio is suggesting. The apparent overt nature of the infraction, in addition to the subject being a player rather than a coach, could account for the significant jump.

There have been several other instances of organizational fines and penalties for tampering that would also suggest a first-round pick swap is too extreme an outcome.

The Kansas City Chiefs lost $350,000 and two picks (2015 and 2016) over Jeremy Maclin.

Dolphins Case Could Be Even Better News for Vikings

Roger Goodell, Stephen Ross, Minnesota Vikings

GettyNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

In the most relevant instance, though, the Miami Dolphins surrendered their first-round pick in 2023 and a third-rounder this year after the league determined they engaged in “unprecedented” tampering with quarterback Tom Brady and now-Denver Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton.

They also suspended Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for six weeks and fined him $1.4 million.

If the Cardinals-Eagles deal is informative of the penalty over tampering with coaches, it could very well mean that tampering with a QB warrants the punishment Florio suggests.

Swapping a pair of third-round picks is still very different from forcing teams to swap first-round picks. The draft is the primary method of roster building in the NFL. Even if the NFL comes down hard on the Falcons, a ruling could still fall short of landing the Vikings in the top 10 of the draft.