Raiders’ quarterback deal benchmark for Redskins’ Cousins.
Raiders QB becomes highest-paid player in NFL history
One variable in Kirk Cousins‘ contract negotiations has been the status of other quarterbacks — namely the Oakland Raiders’ Derek Carr and the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford — who were expected to land hefty, market-setting new deals this offseason.
On Thursday, Carr signed a five-year contract extension worth $125 million according to multiple reports. The deal makes Carr the highest-paid player in NFL history.
In football, the highest-paid quarterback is usually the most recently paid one. Now, Cousins‘ representatives can use Carr’s new deal as a benchmark in his negotiations.
The Redskins can use the deal, too, though. In reality, it doesn’t do all that much for Cousins’ case to drive up his price.
If the team doesn’t sign him to a longterm deal, the Redskins can keep Cousins on the franchise tag this year ($24 million) and either the transition tag ($28 million) or franchise tag ($34 million) in 2018. Just the average of the franchise tag this year and transition tag, the lower figure, next year would put Cousins at a greater than $25 million annual value.
As is always the case with NFL contracts, the amount of guaranteed money is what really matters. Carr got a guaranteed $40 million at signing and reportedly is guaranteed $70 million throughout the contract. Last summer, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck got a guaranteed $47 million at signing and $87 million guaranteed for injury, so Carr’s deal guarantees less than Luck’s, even though his annual value is higher.
Cousins can earn either $52 million or $58 million, fully guaranteed, over the course of this year and next if he is tagged yet again.
Amy Trask, a former CEO with the
Oakland Raiders and a football analyst for CBS Sports, told The Washington Times the Redskins “have gotten themselves in a little bit of a pickle” with Cousins.
“Now, maybe it’s a pickle of their own choosing,” Trask said. “Maybe they made an affirmative decision going in to let things play out this way. But they’ve created now, for themselves, a situation which is tough economically.”
In terms of performance, Carr and Cousins have played in roughly the same amount of games with Carr having appeared in only one more than Cousins. Carr, however, has turned the ball over less throughout his career. Cousins throws interceptions on 2.7 percent of his passes to Carr’s 1.8. They’ve roughly fumbled the same amount of times, although Carr has 25 fumbles in three years to Cousins’ 24 in five.
Cousins, though, has been asked to throw more and has been the more accurate passer. Cousins has a career 65.9 percent completion rating, including a 68.3 completion percentage since being named started in 2015. Carr, meanwhile, has completed only 60.9 percent of his passes.
Carr has thrown more touchdowns with 81 career TDs to Cousins’ 72. Carr also had 28 TDs last year while Cousins had 25.
Comparing stats can be misleading, anyway — NFL teams primarily base contracts on how productive players are expected to be in the future, not how productive they were in the past. Cousins is still in his prime at 28, but Carr is 25.
And since the Redskins have tagged Cousins’ twice now, starting numbers for a new Cousins contract will be based on what Washington could be forced to pay in the future rather than other deals on the market.
The structure of the deals could also be vastly different. Carr’s contract is reportedly back-loaded so that he won’t have to pay as much state income tax — the Raiders plan to move from California to Nevada, where tax bills are lower, in 2019.
Carr’s contract sets a new high-water mark, but it still may not be the ceiling for Cousins.
“Look, If they want to retain Kirk Cousins they’ve got some tough decisions to make,” Trask said. “And if they don’t want to retain him they need to answer the question ‘And do what?’ I mean, it’s very easy for someone to say, ‘Well, we can go in a different direction.’ OK. And do what? What’s your answer?”
Trask’s question is about contingency planning. It’s not something Washington — which didn’t get a deal done with Cousins last year, when he had less leverage and a lower market value — has particularly excelled at in recent years.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr signed a five-year contract extension worth $125 million, according to reports, becoming the NFL’s highest-paid player.
If he doesn’t sign a long-term deal, the Washington Redskins can keep quarterback Kirk Cousins on the franchise tag at $24 million this year.