How/when will Kirk Cousins pass a physical in Atlanta?

Quarterback Kirk Cousins will leave Minnesota for Atlanta, where he'll sign a four-year, $180 million contract, with $100 million in total guarantees. At some point, he'll have to pass a physical.

In 99.9 percent of all free-agent deals, that's perfunctory. For Cousins, it's not. He tore an Achilles tendon last season, on October 29.

It would have been one thing for him to re-sign in Minnesota, where his injury has been repaired and rehabbed. For the Falcons, there's a leap of faith that's being taken. At some point, the doctors will get a chance to examine him, to assess whether everything is healing, and to project when he'll be able to participate in football activities.

The question in this case is whether and to what extent the Falcons had access to medical information regarding the Cousins injury and rehab before agreeing to terms on such a massive deal. More specifically, did they have medical information before the negotiating window opened?

Yes, tampering is rampant in the days before free agency. Yes, the NFL almost always looks the other way. But, yes, the NFL sometimes will decide to whack a team that is a little too indiscreet or blatant in its fracturing of the rules.

It's one thing for teams to meet with agents for upcoming free agents during the Scouting Combine. Those meetings happen in person, with no footprints, digital or otherwise. If the Falcons were receiving medical information about Cousins before Monday at noon ET, that would be a problem — if the NFL were inclined to turn its attention that way.

Remember the Jimmy Garoppolo situation in 2023? The Raiders made a significant financial commitment without doing due diligence on his foot injury from December 2022. He failed his physical. His contract was rewritten. It ended up being a big mess, and it arguably pre-poisoned the relationship.

Here, the financial stakes are FAR higher. The Falcons would have been nuts to put that kind of offer on the table without sufficient protections against the possibility that something is off as part of the recovery process.

Unless they gathered information ahead of time. If they did, and if the NFL would look into it, the Falcons would have a potential problem.

Some would say that Rich McKay's role in the Competition Committee will keep the league from doing anything. That didn't protect them from getting whacked for pumping fake crowd noise into their former stadium. It also didn't protect them from being punished for failing to disclose that running back Bijan Robinson had a game-day illness, on a day in which he barely played.

The issue is simple. Either the Falcons didn't gather medical information and made that offer without knowing anything about the Cousins recovery or they did, in potentially blatant violation of the tampering rules.

Regardless, tampering happens everywhere. Significant deals don't get negotiated from scratch that quickly. The bigger the contract, the more likely tampering happened. As it relates to Cousins, the Falcons might have done enough to create the kind of evidence that the NFL would be able to find without much effort, if the NFL is inclined to look for it.