2018 NFL CONTRACT PROJECTION: Free Agent QB Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins Measurables
Height: 6-3
Weight: 214
Age: 29
Experience: 6 seasons
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
1-Time Pro Bowler

Potential Teams Projected Cap Space (Top 51) – (per Over The Cap)

Denver Broncos ($23.8M)
Minnesota Vikings ($48.4M)
New York Jets ($90.1M)
Cleveland Browns ($109.5M)

Kirk Cousins Profile

Even if briefly, Kirk Cousins is about to be the NFL’s richest man. The man originally drafted to be Robert Griffin III’s backup has earned $43.9 million in franchise tags over the last two seasons. However, the trade and extension for Alex Smith means Cousins’ time in Washington has come to an end.

Cousins is an effective pocket passer with good arm strength and accuracy. He’s also shown he can keep plays alive with his feet and make plays off schedule. He’s played outside and in cold weather for the duration of his career as well, so no team will be shied away by his lack of exposure to the elements.

Since taking over as the starter in 2015, Cousins has ranks in the Top 10 in completion percentage (3rd), pass yards (4th), pass touchdowns (8th), and passer rating (7th).

Cousins is a 24-23-1  in three-year career as a starter. He won the NFC at 9-7 to make his lone playoff appearance. He had an underwhelming supporting cast; running back Chris Thompson was arguably his #1 target before his injury.

Kirk Cousins Production

Season G W L T Cmp Att Yds/Att Cmp % Yds TD INT Rate GA Rush TD
2015 16 9 7 0 379 543 7.7 69.8 4166 29 11 101.6 14 5
2016 16 8 7 1 406 606 8.1 67 4917 25 12 97.2 15 4
2017 16 7 9 0 347 540 7.6 64.3 4093 27 13 93.9 18 4
Totals 48 24 23 1 1132 1689 7.8 67 13176 81 36 97.5 47 13

Quarterback Market

Jimmy Garoppolo just set the quarterback market with 7 starts to his name. This bodes well for a player such as Cousins, with three seasons as a productive starter. The quarterback market lives by one rule: it’s not about who’s best, it’s about who’s next—an inescapable reality for teams attempting to lock up potential franchise signal callers.

Player Comparables: Jimmy Garroppolo, Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr, Andrew Luck

Contract Comparison

Although Garoppolo may have the “biggest” contract and is the “highest” paid player in the NFL, his deal doesn’t contain the security of Stafford’s deal, which is what Cousins will look to model his contract around.

Player Year Age Yrs Value APY GTD Full GTD 2018 APY
Matthew Stafford 2017 29 5 $135.0M $27.0M $92.0M $60.5M $28.8M
Derek Carr 2017 26 5 $125.0M $25.0M $70.2M $40.0M $26.6M
Andrew Luck 2016 27 6 $139.1M $23.2M $87.0M $44.0M $26.6M
Jimmy Garoppolo 2018 26 5 $137.5M $27.5M $74.1M $48.7M $27.5M
Averages 27 5 $134.2M $25.7M $80.8M $48.3M $27.4M

Contract information from OverTheCap.com

Statistical Comparison (Two Year Averages Before Deal)

Player Seasons W-L Comp % Pass YPG Y/A TD/Gm INT/Gm Passer Rating
Matthew Stafford 2015-16 16-16 66.3 268.4 7.2 1.8 0.7 95.1
Derek Carr 2015-16 19-12 62.4 255.6 7.0 1.9 0.6 93.9
Jimmy Garoppolo Career “7-0” 68.1 291 8.7 2 0.8 100.3
Averages   65.6 271.7 7.6 1.9 0.7 96.4
Kirk Cousins 2016-17 15-16-1 65.7 281.6 7.9 1.6 0.8 95.6

2018 Cap Adjusted Annual Salary: $27.4 million


Cousins literally has All. Of. The. Leverage. A quarterback of his caliber rarely hits the free agent market without age and/or injury concerns. The Alex Smith trade pushed all the chips into Cousins; hands. The opportunity to sign a franchise quarterback is rare, and teams will come deep out of pocket to ensure Cousins is on their roster next season.

The only instances of a franchise quarterback hitting the open market in recent memory were Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, each of whom had serious injury concerns about their future. Both the Broncos and the Saints were rewarded with Super Bowl championship for their investment.

Reservation Price

Pretty simple: Kirk Cousins’ reservation price is resetting the quarterback market for a second time in 2018.

Salary Floor: $27.6 million per year

Cousins will be the highest paid player in the NFL soon, even if he’s passed by Aaron Rodgers immediately thereafter. That’s quite the floor. Cousins contract will be far more secure than Garoppolo’s though.

Salary Ceiling: $33 million per year

$30 million (APY) is a number that’s been thrown around when considering Cousins’ free agency prospects. If Cousins wants that, he’s going to get it. He could probably get even higher than $33 million per season if he went to a dire situation like Cleveland, but he won’t do that.

Contract Projection

With Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, and Russell Wilson coming up in the next few seasons, Cousins won’t be the richest player in the league for long. However, he does becomes the first player in NFL history to get $100 million guaranteed, while also setting the high-water mark for fully guaranteed money at $75 million.

5 years, $150 million; $30 million APY, $100 million guaranteed, $75 million fully guaranteed

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