Kirk Cousins made nearly $20 million last year. This year, Cousins stands to make about $24 million, and that's if he doesn't sign a long-term deal.
Without hesitation, that is huge money. Huge.
Yet, CBS Sports' Joel Corry makes the case that NFL quarterbacks are actually underpaid, and Cousins presents one of the best opportunities to break from that norm.
There are more NFL teams than there are quality quarterbacks. Even rarer are passers who can consistently win games with their arms. This scarcity puts QBs in an extremely advantageous position when negotiating contracts. Despite favorable circumstances, the top of the market has remained fairly stagnant since Aaron Rodgers became the NFL's highest-paid player in April 2013 with a five-year, $110 million extension.
Corry explained that QBs rarely use their full leverage in contract talks, and that stems from a variety of reasons. Future Hall of Famers like Tom Brady set an example of taking less to make the whole team better. Other guys just choose not to fully exert pressure, as Corry laid out the case with Drew Brees and the Saints.
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The entire article has value, but as it relates to Cousins, the most interesting aspects come when Corry touches on the franchise tag and its impact on quarterback contract valuations. QBs rarely get hit with the franchise tag, and never for two straight seasons, as Cousins has. Redskins fans are all too familiar with the pitfalls of a second franchise tag, as the organization has lost most, if not all, leverage in long-term contract talks with Cousins.
There is one more factor that Cousins has talked about. Perhaps because of the example set by Brady - taking less money for the good of the team - few QBs have pushed to the top of the market for the good of the position group as a whole. Cousins has talked about doing exactly that, and seems quite cognizant of what his contract position can do for players that come after him.
Again from Corry:
There has been speculation that Cousins could get $30 million per year on the open market given the shortage of good quarterbacks. Cousins signing in free agency would likely be a game changer for quarterback salaries even if he falls short of the mark. It would be the beginning of a dramatic shift at the top of quarterback market.
Redskins fans that want a multi-year deal with Cousins before the July 17th deadline might not like hearing how much impact the gifted passer could have on the NFL marketplace, though understanding the league-wide importance of this contract might shed a little light on the pace of the negotiations.
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