WASHINGTON — Monday is National Cousins Day, and perhaps to celebrate, CBS NFL insider Jason La Canfora wrote 1,800 words on a mega-deal that could be enough to woo Kirk Cousins this offseason.
But first, he talked about how the absence of a deal heading into the 2017 season makes no sense–even to agents and rival team executives who have no skin in the game.
I’ve spoken to a number of NFL execs and agents over the last week — none of them with a vested interest in this outcome (ahem, no brass from the 49ers or Rams, teams who could be lining up with open checkbooks for Cousins in March) — and all remain dumbfounded at how Washington handled their business with the most productive quarterback the franchise has had in decades. There was a deal to be done here; it didn’t have to go down this way.
Indeed, now that the Redskins have backed themselves this far into the corner, a deal of historic magnitude–and eye-popping numbers–is the only way for everyone to save face. Here is what he, and an unnamed NFL agent, propose: a nine-year, $210.25 million deal.
That’s the headline, as it should be. But like most NFL contracts, it could be structured in such a way as to give the team salary cap flexibility, pay the bulk of the contract up front, and not be committed to Cousins for much after three seasons, which is all that anyone can expect in the NFL.
Here are a few other details of the proposed deal (which would have started this year, assuming this deal already got done at the deadline), which is worth a deeper exploration:
- A $35 million signing bonus with $5 million base salary increases his money up front
- The deal could shorten to three years for $83.25 million ($27.75 million per year)
- The deal could also shorten to six years at $150.50 million ($25.08 million per year)
- In year two, when the team will look to retain other key free agents, Cousins’ salary drops to $15.5 million
- In year three, his salary and roster bonus would combine for the $27.75 annual average.
These numbers would ensure Cousins an average of nearly $30 million per year for years two and three, on top of the $24 million he was already guaranteed with the 2017 franchise tag. This greatly exceeds the $29 million total that the Redskins offered to tack onto his $24 million guaranteed this season.
La Canfora goes on to explain the breakdown of the additional seasons, but the point is this: Cousins and the Redskins have a trust problem, and he likely wants a contract that buys back some of that trust.
Team president Bruce Allen is part of the brain-trust that gave Donovan McNabb an extension that wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, which should give any star playere skepticism in dealmaking.
Ultimately, don’t be surprised to see quarterbacks hit $200 million contracts sooner rather than later. Now, the ball is in the Redskins’ court to concoct a deal that gives Cousins what he wants and allows everyone to save face.