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The Falcons tampering with quarterback Kirk Cousins, as proven by the things Cousins said during his introductory press conference. The NFL is investigating. 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.

The question becomes whether and to what extent the Falcons will be punished. Some think the presence of Rich McKay on the Competition Committee will get the Falcons a pass. Obviously, that shouldn’t be the case. (However, they did get less of a punishment for pumping fake crowd noise into the Georgia Dome than the 49ers received for a simple accounting error.)

Given the manner in which the NFL handled last year’s tampering by the Cardinals with former Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, it’s impossible to rule out an announcement that drops just before the first round of the draft.

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 Cardinals-Eagles settlement. It would make sense for it to happen again, between the Falcons and the Vikings.

And it would be a fair outcome, if (as Cousins admitted) he spoke with the team’s head athletic trainer the day before the team was allowed to speak to him, he possibly spoke with director of player personnel Ryan Pace before the team was allowed to speak to him, he participated in the recruitment of former Bears receiver Darnell Mooney during the negotiating window, and whatever else the NFL might have discovered by reviewing text messages and other evidence, including whether the team knew about the efforts of tight end Kyle Pitts to recruit Cousins — efforts Pitts tried to deny once they came to light.

The end result could, and perhaps should, be that the Vikings will have the eighth and 23rd picks. Which makes their potential effort to trade up into the top five a little easier. Or maybe they’ll just stay put at eight and wait for a quarterback they like to fall to them.

Regardless, because the NFL dropped that fairly important Cardinals-Eagles tampering nugget last year just as the draft began, it makes sense to watch for it again this year, especially since the Falcons did indeed tamper with Cousins.

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