For many reasons, Kirk Cousins’ free agency is one of the most fascinating NFL offseason stories in years.
The answers to these two questions will turn the NFL upside down: Where will Cousins land, and how much will he get paid? The latter question might actually be more important around the league than the first.
Cousins’ contract is going to set some records. That much seems inevitable, unless he follows through on his talk of wanting to go to a winner and takes a discount somewhere like Denver. Jimmy Garoppolo’s time as the highest paid player in NFL history is going to last about a month.
But how high will it go? One report Tuesday said the New York Jets are willing to give Cousins a first-year total of … $60 million. Every team that has an elite quarterback with a contract renegotiation coming up just passed out.
The New York Post’s Brian Costello, based on his reporting, put out a possible Jets offer for Cousins: five years, $150 million with most of that guaranteed and an amazing $60 million guaranteed in the first year. Garoppolo shattered a record with a first-year cap hit of $37 million, and Cousins’ first-year number could beat that. Pro Football Talk has speculated the Jets, or someone else, could guarantee Cousins’ entire deal, which is practically unprecedented for a mega-deal in the NFL. Front-loading the deal with a huge first-year cap number would make the contract more palatable on the salary cap for the final few years of it.
Remember after you hear those possible numbers for Cousins — who has made one Pro Bowl and led Washington to the playoffs once, where it lost its first game — that at some point soon, the Green Bay Packers must extend Aaron Rodgers’ deal.
Cousins will put an even bigger chasm between the quarterback market in the NFL and the market for all other players. He’s a unique case since no quarterback with Cousins’ combination of age, talent, skill level and extended track record has ever hit the open market. Teams like the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings and Jets could see Cousins as a quick way to solve their quarterback issue, and a few of them have a ridiculous amount of cap space. Nothing should shock us when we see the final numbers in Cousins’ deal.
It will be exciting to see where Cousins, one of the most coveted free agents ever, lands. And NFL executives will be keeping a close eye on the details of his contract.
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