Will Kirk Cousins get a fully-guaranteed contract on the open market?

When quarterback Kirk Cousins became a free agent in 2018, he had two serious suitors: the Vikings and the Jets. He ultimately signed a three-year, fully-guaranteed contract with the Vikings, which paid out a then-record $28 million per year.

(Fun fact: The high end of the quarterback market has nearly doubled in less than six years, from $28 million to $55 million.)

Now that Cousins is heading to free agency again, will he get a fully-guaranteed deal? The Vikings reportedly aren't willing to do it. If they aren't, and if someone else will, that could be enough to get Kirk to say aloha to Valhalla.

So will a team like the Falcons do it? If it's only a three-year deal (like it was in 2018 from the Vikings), maybe. Beyond that, the low-key collusion could kick in, keeping owners from doing what they need to do to sign a great player for fear of getting the shoulder at the Orlando oligarch party in late March.

There's a pending grievance regarding the refusal of teams to give certain veteran quarterbacks fully-guaranteed deals. Last year, the Falcons (among other teams) didn't pursue Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson when he was restricted by the non-exclusive franchise tag, arguably for fear of being asked to fully guarantee the contract.

What if the Falcons, and others, engage in the same tactics with Cousins this year?

No one likes being told what to do. The more money and power a person has, the less a person wants to yield to someone else's will. So what if getting accused of collusion has made the owners independently less willing to do what the union wants them to do? What if fully-guaranteed deals for veteran players have gone the way of the dodo bird, without the owners ever discussing it among themselves, directly or indirectly, since they had a collective hissy fit over Browns owner Jimmy Haslam breaking ranks?

The strangest part about this entire discussion is that, for most franchise quarterbacks, the contract doesn't need to be fully guaranteed. The team will keep the quarterback and happily pay his non-guaranteed salary. Of course, one team that quite possibly would rip up the fully-guaranteed contract and move on at this point, if it could, would be the Browns, with Deshaun Watson.

Cousins turns 36 in August and is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, an injury that usually hits older players. And, when one Achilles has gone, it's often likely that the other Achilles is waiting to pop, too.

We've recently interpreted the Vikings' position on Cousins as having two prongs. They don't want him and they want it to look like it was his decision to leave, or they do want him and they're blowing it by not signing him before other teams can show interest. It could be that they want him but only up to a certain number and structure and, beyond that, they'll just move on.

The question for the rest of the league is whether there will be a "beyond that" offer for Cousins. Again, he had only two primary suitors in 2018. Six years older and one torn Achilles tendon later, will someone put the kind of deal on the table that the Vikings won't and, more importantly, will it be fully guaranteed?

Owners who built their fortunes didn't get there by being stupid. Post-Deshaun, they pushed the pendulum in the other direction, hard. The Cousins deal, whatever it is, could end up being confirmation of the fact that the contract the Browns gave to Watson was a one-time aberration — and that owners who insist they're trying to win the Super Bowl each and every year have very real financial limits on what they'll do to make that happen, beyond the limits imposed by the CBA.