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Kirk Cousins’ Contract with Vikings a Landmark Deal for NFL Stars

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Kirk Cousins’ Contract with Vikings a Landmark Deal for NFL Stars

While the bigger news in Packerland today is undoubtedly the release of Jordy Nelson and signing of Jimmy Graham, there’s another story relating to a divisional rival that will also have a ripple effect on the Packers moving forward.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Kirk Cousins will sign a three-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Minnesota Vikings when free agency officially begins on Thursday. Reports suggest the deal to be in the neighborhood of $28 million per year.

This is a watershed moment for player contracts in the NFL. We have not seen fully guaranteed contracts in this era of the NFL. While we have been seeing increasingly higher amounts of guaranteed money in big-time deals each offseason, especially when quarterbacks sign new contracts, none as of yet had been fully guaranteed.

It was bound to happen sooner or later, and when it did, it would be a significant milestone for the NFL and its Players Association, the most important contract signed in recent history.

And it’s Kirk Cousins of all people to be the one to receive it.

Cousins has never been a top-10 player at the position in his career, which makes him an unlikely player to be the one who will have such tremendous impact on future contracts, especially at the quarterback position. But he and the people representing him have played this masterfully over the last couple years.

Cousins played two years under the franchise tag at a top-five salary, and while he wasn’t awe-inspiring, he also didn’t do anything to diminish his value. He never backed down from what had always been reported he was looking for—a three year deal with massive guaranteed money. Knowing how desperate NFL teams are for even an above-average quarterback and also that the salary cap continues to rise each year, Cousins knew he’d find his shot somewhere.

He just so happened to luck into an offseason in which multiple teams would be legitimate contenders if they added a franchise quarterback. When it was reported Denver would be signing Case Keenum, the Cousins-to-Minnesota rumors seemed like they would pan out after all, and sure enough, they did.

Aaron Rodgers is watching

So obviously, this impacts the Packers in a couple ways. First, the Packers will now see Cousins and a formidable-looking Vikings offense twice a year.

Second, Aaron Rodgers is about to get the biggest contract in NFL history.

If Kirk Cousins is able to score $28 million a year guaranteed for three years, you have to think Rodgers is now looking at $30 million a year in a fully guaranteed contract.

Don’t even begin the speculation about Rodgers taking a deal lower than his market worth to give the Packers more cap space to operate. He doesn’t owe the Packers that, and shouldn’t take any less than he’s worth.

Now that the Cousins deal is done, I would be surprised if Rodgers doesn’t have one in place before the end of the summer, and likely much sooner than that, based on all the reports that have come out of Packers reporters over the last couple months.


Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (45) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

John Kirk's picture

The fully guaranteed part is the worst of it. Garoppolo was already paid in that strata so the money isn't some new unexpected thing. Cousins is actually less than expected in that regard. He gave up more for the guarantee. Will Aaron?

I think most of Packers nation has poo pooed the signing of Cousins because it's the Packers main competition. Keep in mind these stats in their respective first 3 seasons as starters:

Kirk Cousins: 13,176 yards passing - 81TDs - 36INTs - 67% completion - 97.5 passer rating

Aaron Rodgers: 12,394 yards passing - 86TDs - 31INTs - 64.6% completion - 99.4 passer rating

^^^^^^^ That's not a very big disparity with Cousins out yarding Aaron by almost 800 and almost a 2.5% completion percentage bump. Cousins is quite formidable and just enhances their team and chances especially in 2018 in a rapidly improving NFC.

One other thing of note... Cousins has played in all 48 games over the last 3 seasons. That's important. He's younger and healthier.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Hopefully this makes it hard for the Viking to afford Jerrick McKinnon this year and Stephan Diggs next year...

Packers badly need some guys who can cover.

worztik's picture

What do 2 offensive Vikequeen players have to do with our need for DB help? You are not coherent!

jeremyjjbrown's picture

What do Vikings receivers have to do with the Packers secondary? Well, other than the fact that the compete directly with each other on the field, I guess not much.

worztik's picture

I thought McKinnon was a RB... my mistake, I guess!

Chuck Farley's picture

Earth to wortz, you right we will just let these two run wild uncovered by guys we don't have. Our vaunted pass rush will prevent anything deep

Nick Perry's picture

Don't forget Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Nick Easton, and Diggs Jeremy. That's going to take a hell of a lot of money to sign those players. Every single one of them is over a $10 million a year guy in today's market (Except Easton). Some will approach $15 million a year, maybe more like Hunter and possibly Barr.

The Vikings haven't had to pay a franchise QB anything for years. Having a QB who will cost you $28 million a year is a hell of a lot different than paying Teddy on a rookie deal or Keenum a few million to be a back-up, something they thought he'd be at the time they signed him.

I was listening to NFL Radio on my drive home yesterday and the callers were surprisingly negative about the Cousins signing. I mean they were bashing the hell out of this deal. Cousins has a LOSING record as a starter (Like 5 games under 500). I don't give a damn about Cousins going to Minnesota. Stafford scares me a hell of a lot more than Cousins. Lets not forget Cousins had quite a few weapons around him in Washington so not to have at least a 500 record speaks volumes IMO.

I said it before and I'll say it again... Cousins AIN'T Aaron Rodgers, not even in the same ballpark. Not to mention the last time the Queens won the NFC North 2 times in a row was 2008, 2009 when they NEEDED an Ex-Packers to accomplish that. Before that you need to go back to the 70's!!

GBPDAN1's picture

Pack is definitely signing Wilkerson!! We added Graham , now let's get some CBs

The TKstinator's picture


Mojo's picture

Just saw that! Holy crap, Gute wasn't just blowing smoke.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Each move Gute makes keeps getting better. Now we just need a cornerback.

John Kirk's picture

I love that it's a one year 5 mil deal with 3 mil in incentives. He'll be MOtivated this season.

Have to say I'm surprised but I'll credit Pettine for this one. He doesn't come here if we still have Dom.

Credit to Brian for bringing in two studs. I didn't think he could do it.

Bearmeat's picture

Let the Vikes think they're Super Bowl Bound!

How many years have we heard it from them? Annual offseason champs over there in purple koolaid land! smh.

Look: Cousins is better than Keenum. That’s a no brainer. However:

1. PFF just ranked MIN’s OL 22nd. That’s worse than ours by a long shot. Cousins is nowhere near as mobile as either Teddy or Case was. Case made someone out of nothing a lot last year for them.
2. 84 million guaranteed for a signal caller who is top 12, but not top 8? That’s going to come back to bite them very soon. They are not going to be able to sign all their defensive talent to 2nd contacts. The Vikings are officially "all in" for 18 and 19. Their team is going to fall apart very shortly after that.
3. Let’s see how they do picking 30th in every round. Kind of tough to get game changers that far back.

GB’s roster has problems. But MIN’s is not invincible. If we get our pass rush fixed and find better communication in the secondary, we’ll be right there at the end with MIN.

Oppy's picture

I agree mostly. The vikings success last year was not predicated on exceptional QB play, but rather, a stout defense and an offense that didn't make a ton of mistakes. Any team with a stout defense and a secure offense will win some games.

That said, Cousins does make the Vikings a stronger opponent. I didn't really buy into last year's vikings, admittedly, partially due to my bias. The other thing is I think the Vikings had a stronger-than-normal year (for the Vikings) in a surprisingly down year for the rest of the NFC (due mostly to injury and wackiness around the league). I don't think anyone would have been talking about the Vikes last season had the NFC not been so down- the 2017 vikings vs. any other recent season in the NFC, I don't think they look nearly as good.

Anyways, Minnesota will definitely be a better team this year than last with Cousins behind the helm, and that should be respected. However I agree, as a PAckers fan, I'm not shaking in my boots (even with a defense in transition) and I don't think the other teams that are typically players across the NFC are, either.

I'll be pissed if I'm wrong about this, lol!

Nick Perry's picture

3. "Let’s see how they do picking 30th in every round. Kind of tough to get game changers that far back."

Don't worry bout nothing BM, they'll be picking in the teens in no time again.

mrtundra's picture

Cousins will prove to be mediocre once he gets injured on the turf in Minnesota's practice facility or in the Stapler. That turf did wonders for Teddy, Bradford and Cook, not to mention Aaron Rodgers. I really dislike any posts on this site that are about anything vikings. Sure, we can see that we want to extend Aaron's contract and to compare other QB contracts, like the one Cousins got, to what we should offer Aaron. Aaron is miles ahead of Cousins as a quality QB. Pay him and play him. and screw the minnesota drivel.

Lphill's picture

Aaron not happy losing Jordy now he can screw the Packers with a new deal, no improvements on defense plus lost our only decent corner , all good FA corners signed . Same old same old.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Fully guaranteed $30 mill/year? Fine. Guaranteeing $35 mill/year?


worztik's picture

They’re both still guaranteed!? How many jobs are GUARANTEED in the real world? Let these players that think they’re so valuable, work on a heavily incentivized contract, like a salesperson that can earn a bonus or commission for doing their job at the highest level. It’s hard to relate to these millionaires more and more each year. Nobody should ever get GUARANTEED $$$$$$$$... EVER!!!!!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I have mixed feelings about guaranteed contracts. I should think that having a few players with fully guaranteed money makes things more of a crapshoot, but it is just a matter of degree. Guaranteed fully or not, if your superstar got hurt and couldn't play for multiple seasons, a team was in trouble both on the field and in terms of cap space.

My guess is that fully guaranteed contract for the best depresses the market for the middle tier player.

Bearmeat's picture

This is not in relation to the Cousins or ARod signing at all... but I'd ethically prefer to have fully guaranteed contracts for all NFL players. There is no sport with as much injury related turnover as the NFL. The players are putting their bodies on the line every snap. I believe their contracts should be guaranteed for injury with escalators for performance.

Christopher Gennaro's picture

I'm on board especially with your last sentence, that may be the only way it will work. If the NFL go fully guarantee through out, salaries have to come down, to compensate. You are right thou players must look at the other three major sports and shake their heads.

Qoojo's picture

As far as I am concerned, the nfl has been getting off way too easy on "contracts". I use quotes because the a contract is really only enforced on one end, the player. The team can almost cut bait and run at any time, unless there is specific wording in the contract. It might hurt their salary cap number, but the team in most cases does not lose money.

All contracts should be guaranteed. Like everyone says to the player, you signed the deal, now live with it.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

BTW, this is the way it probably is going to work: shake hands with the FA GB just signed, then go generate cap space (here, cut Jordy rather than restructure him or someone else), sign contracts and send them in to the NFL.

Rinse, repeat.

Spock's picture

I wasn't really in the "I hope the Vikings overpay Cousins" camp just because it would make AR's contract even bigger. Well, it's been an interesting day so far. More Packer action than I expected with the Jordy/Graham scenario. At least NP and JK can stop with the "TT is still running everything from the shadows" conspiracy theory, lol; that's definitely not going on!! ;)

John Kirk's picture

Hey now! I didn't think Ted was running anything. He wasn't at Senior Bowl or Combine. He's probably not even with the org anymore.

Savage57's picture

Kudo's to Cousins. One of the more masterful jobs of beating the house we've seen in recent years, probably since Revis.

That said, hopefully this 'bold' move by the Vikings yields returns in line with their 'bold' move for Herschel Walker.

Cousins is a just a guy, Matt Hasselbeck reincarnated in 2018.

Lphill's picture

Packers D line just got better.

Chuck Farley's picture

Come on guys spielman has had the.hetter of the pack for years, picking first guys Ted coveted forcing Ted to take datone, Randall, Perry, worthy.
Spielman gave the farm away knowing the pack had to top that for Rogers, leaving nothing to spend on free agents and acquiring a bunch of draft picks who won't elp much this year. Vikes win again

Oppy's picture

First of all, Rodgers doesn't have to be signed this year, and second, overpaying a good-not-great QB as though he's the best QB in the league in order to force your opponent to pay the best QB in the league like he's the best QB in the league... Not a great strategy.

JDK52's picture

Nice the see the Vikings' ship is about the set sail. Have fun holding that roster together with low picks and a fully-gauranteed "guy" at QB.

Meanwhile, can we talk about Mo Wilkerson and the potential our D line now has??? Kirk better get used to sniffing the ground.

Cubbygold's picture

Not that this signing was/should be related to the vikings signing cousins... But cousins isn't the most mobile QB and is known for throwing interceptions when under pressure. I think the vikings still have two big holes in their line, hopefully they can't afford to fill them with quality guys. A solid GB d-line coild be the best weapon GB has (outside of 12) for beating the vikes

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

We signed Wilkerson 1 year, $5M with $3M in incentives. I've pointed out how using incentives on a few FA signings can help circumvent 2018's cap issues and push cap legally into 2019 if Wilkerson plays well, when our cap looks better. And if he doesn't play that well, we don't have to fork the money over.

Now, some CBs, maybe with more incentives depending on the player!

Mojo's picture

Not a bad contract to take on.

flackcatcher's picture

Both Wilkerson and Graham are in effect 1 year rentals. Wilkerson's a 'show me 'deal after the Bennett debacle, and Graham's a one and option year. Packers assume little risk in both. Nicely done BK, nicely done.

Lphill's picture

Chuck Farley what exactly have the Vikings won all these years? I must have missed it.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I am betting that Cousins' contract is not fully guaranteed, except in media parlance. If you see a roster bonus, for example, those cannot be fully guaranteed under the CBA without consequences. If a Roster bonus is fully guaranteed, they become OATSB types and amortize.

Fully guaranteed also implies no offsets. Even big-time player contracts often have offsets.

kevgk's picture

Lol kirk has crapped his pants in every important game hes played, perfect for the vikings! They payed top dollar for an andy dalton. Kirk is a known stat padder with horrible red zone efficiency and the rest of the division is getting better around them. He has never lifted his team to success and averaged 8-8 the last three seasons. They'll make no changes to their "championship" defense or inconsistent offense, play the hardest schedule in the league next year, fans will gloat until week 5, and the FO won't look back and wonder what went wrong! Great news!

Since '61's picture

$86 million guaranteed for a QB who has been above average at best. Cousins lacks mobility and throws picks in pressure situations. Rodgers jackpot just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

NFL owners really know how to throw their money away.

The Packers will reportedly sign Wilkerson for $5 mil/1year. Sounds very reasonable in light of all these huge contracts we've heard about so far this week. This is a good signing which immediately improves our DL.
Need 2 CBs and a speed WR.

Gute doing OK so far. Let's see what tomorrow brings. Thanks, Since '61

CAG123's picture

Paul Richardson is a young guy that can stretch the field and would probably be another cheap signing or at least relatively cheap.

worztik's picture


CAG123's picture

You might be the most annoying person on this blog

Packmaniac's picture

Richardson is going to Washington, where Dan Snyder is overpaying him. 5 year 40 mil, 20 mil guaranteed. 20! Dear lord.

worztik's picture

Like I said...

CAG123's picture

I made a comment sometime ago about how unnerving Cousins in MN would be and it’s happened with that def (even after the beat down in the NFCCG) and QB that’s better than game manager status things could be interesting this season it’s not like the Vikings Off doesn’t boast Rudolph, Diggs, and Cook. Packers need to make moves to acquire CBs that can cover and please at least entertain the idea of grabbing one of the plentiful athletic LBs in this draft. No more JAGS.

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