We hear a lot of numbers being thrown around regarding a possible contract agreement between the Redskins and quarterback Kirk Cousins. The top line numbers are important. According to a report the Redskins are offering $20 million per season and the Cousins camp, which has most of the leverage, wants close to $24 million.
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But the details of a deal are at least as important as the average annual value. The sports contracts website Spotrac has worked out a contract that will satisfy what Cousins may be looking for in terms of compensation while giving the Redskins a deal that will leave them with enough money to keep the rest of the team stocked with talent.
Here is their estimate of what ak five-year Cousins deal at $23.6 million per year ($118 million total) might look like:
The contract would have $27 million fully guaranteed at signing. That seems low since when Cousins signs the franchise tage he will be fully guaranteed $24 million but we’ll look at that in a minute. Cousins would get a $15 million signing bonus along with a $12 million fully guaranteed salary. The first-year cap hit would be $15 million, saving the team nearly $9 million in 2017 cap space. As it is, all of Cousins’ $23.94 million franchise tag salary counts against the 2017 cap.
Year 1 likely would be acceptable to Cousins. But what happens after that probably would not work for him — but is not difficult to correct it. Cousins would get a salary of $18 million but the team could avoid that by releasing him prior to March. Their cap hit for walking away after one season would be $12 million. That would sting but it would be manageable.
It is unlikely that the Redskins will get Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent, to agree to such an easy exit. And letting Cousins go after two seasons would cost only $9 million. That makes it too easy for the team to make it a short-term deal.
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The problem could be fixed by fully guaranteeing all of Cousins’ 2018 salary at signing. That would keep the cap hit the same at $21 million while increasing the fully guaranteed money to $45 million. If that’s not enough for the Cousins camp they could guarantee all or part of the 2019 salary and bring the full guarantee as high as $66 million. That is a fairly low risk guarantee for the Redskins; if they aren’t going to stick with him for at least three years they probably should just let him walk after this season.
The cap numbers go up every year but so does the cap. Here are the yearly percentages of the projected salary cap that this deal would consume:
The percentage does increase as the contract goes on. If this is a concern they could take more of it on in 2017 by increasing the first-year salary or by adding a roster bonus that would count against this year’s cap.
It’s still a lot of money to be going to one player. But alternatives are scarce and that scarcity manifests itself in terms of big dollars for a quarterback without a playoff win on his resume.