Is the NFL about to reward the Vikings with a better first-round pick in 2024?

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Following the recent reports about the NFL looking into whether or not the Atlanta Falcons committed a tampering violation during their pursuit of free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins this offseason, some have wondered if the Minnesota Vikings could end up benefitting from the results of the league's investigation.

Specifically, if the NFL determines that the Falcons committed a tampering violation during their attempt to sign Cousins, could the league force them to swap first-round picks in this year's NFL Draft with the Vikings?

Instead of having picks No. 11 and No. 23 in the opening round of the 2024 draft, could Minnesota actually wind up with picks No. 8 (Atlanta's current first-round selection) and No. 11 if the league determines that the Falcons committed a tampering violation this offseason?

Will the NFL force the Atlanta Falcons to swap first-round picks with the Minnesota Vikings in 2024?

The answers to this question are a bit complicated.

First off, yes, Atlanta could be forced to forfeit a draft pick if they've committed a tampering violation, but it likely wouldn't be their first-round pick and they might not be forced to lose any selections until 2025.

Secondly, no, the NFL likely won't make the Falcons swap their 2024 first-round selection with Minnesota. In fact, the Vikings might be rewarded with absolutely nothing even if the league does determine that Atlanta committed a tampering violation this offseason.

Prior to last year's NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals settled a tampering case on their own by swapping multiple draft selections.

As a result of tampering during their efforts to hire former Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon as their head coach, the Cardinals sent the No. 66 pick (third round) in the 2023 NFL Draft for Philadelphia's No. 94 pick (third round) and a fifth-round selection in the 2024 draft.

In 2008, the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears swapped third-round picks in the 2008 NFL Draft after the 49ers violated the league's anti-tampering policy in 2007 when they contacted the agent of Bears linebacker Lance Briggs.

In NFL history, no team has been forced to swap first-round selections with another team after being found guilty of a tampering violation that involved a current player.

However, back in August of 2022, the NFL stripped the Miami Dolphins of their first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft after the league determined the team committed multiple tampering violations from 2019 to 2022 during conversations with quarterback Tom Brady and current Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton.

But that is an example of an extreme tampering case, and unless the NFL finds out that Cousins and the Falcons have been in contact for multiple years, a similar punishment for Atlanta should not be expected if they violated the league's anti-tampering policy.

So, basically, if the NFL decides that the Falcons committed a tampering violation this offseason, they could strip them of a future draft selection and possibly force them to swap third-round draft picks with Minnesota in 2025 or later.

Unless the Vikings and Falcons work out a solution on their own in the near future, similar to what the Eagles and Cardinals did last year, don't expect Minnesota to land a draft selection from Atlanta until 2025 at the earliest, and that's if Vikings even get anything at all.