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What should Kwesi Adofo-Mensah do with Kirk Cousins’ Contract?

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By: MarkSP18

Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Vikings new GM, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, has stepped right into it. I am certain he is 100% prepared to handle the current Vikings cap situation.

The Vikings are about 13M over the cap right now and their QB, Kirk Cousins, has a 45M cap hit that they must try to work around. It is the last year of his contract as well.

How they decide to move forward will dictate not only the future of the success of the team on the field but also the future of GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the new Head Coach.

What are their options?

1. Extend

What would/should an extension look like? How much have teams paid Quarterbacks at age 35 in an extension.

If you look at overthecap for current active QB contracts you will see that the players with an AAV over 35M all signed at age 27 or younger and their deals averaged 21.3% of the cap.

The next group of players that signed deals with an AAV over 30M had two that signed at age 26 & 24, and the others were at 34, 32, & 31 (Cousins) or younger and their deals averaged 17.44% of the cap.

If you look strictly by age, the players who signed their deals at age 34 or older had an AAV of 28.5M and their deals averaged 14.96% of the cap. This was after removing the one year 14M deal that Big Ben signed at 39. These were for Brady, Brees, Rivers, Big Ben, and Rodgers though.

The list below definitions …

AGE – age when signed

YEAR – year signed

% OF CAP – at signing


PLYR | AGE | YEAR| YRS | TTL | AAV | BONUS | GTD | TTL GTD | % OF CAP

Patrick Mahomes | 24 | 2020 | 10 | $450M | $45M | $10M | $63M | $141M | 22.7%

Josh Allen | 25 | 2021 | 6 | $258M | $43M | $16.5M | $100M | $150M | 23.6%

Dak Prescott | 27 | 2021 | 4 | $160M | $40M | $66M | $95M | $126M | 21.9%

Deshaun Watson | 24 | 2020 | 4 | $156M | $39M | $27M | $73.7M | $110.7M | 19.7%

Russell Wilson | 30 | 2019 | 4 | $140M | $35M | $65M | $70M | $107M | 18.6%

Jared Goff | 24 | 2019 | 4 | $134M | $33.5M | $25M | $57M | $110M | 17.8%

Aaron Rodgers | 34 | 2018 | 4 | $134M | $33.5M | $57.5M | $79.2M | $98.7M | 18.9%

Kirk Cousins | 31 | 2020 | 2 | $66M | $33M | $30M | $31M | $66M | 16.6%

Carson Wentz | 26 | 2019 | 4 | $128M | $32M | $16.4M | $66.4M | $107.97M | 17.0%

Matt Ryan | 32 | 2018 | 5 | $150M | $30M | $46.5M | $94.5M | $100M | 16.9%

Ryan Tannehill | 31 | 2020 | 4 | $118M | $29.5M | $20M | $62M | $91M | 14.9%

Jimmy Garoppolo | 26 | 2018 | 5 | $137.5M | $27.5M | $7M | $41.7M | $74.1M | 15.5%

Matthew Stafford | 29 | 2017 | 5 | $135M | $27M | $50M | $60.5M | $92M | 16.2%

Derek Carr | 26 | 2017 | 5 | $125M | $25M | $12.5M | $40M | $70.2M | 5.0%

Tom Brady | 43 | 2020 | 1 | $25M | $25M | $20M | $25M | $25M | 12.6%

Ben Roethlisberger | 37 | 2019 | 2 | $68M | $34M | $37.5M | $37.5M | $37.5M | 18.1%

Ben Roethlisberger | 39 | 2019 | 1 | $14M | $14M | $12.9M | $12.9M | $12.9M | 7.7%

Drew Brees | 39 | 2020 | 2 | $50M | $25M | $13.5M | $20.700.000 | $27M | 12.6%

Alex Smith | 33 | 2018 | 4 | $94M | $23.5M | $27M | $55M | $71M | 13.3%

Philip Rivers | 39 | 2020 | 1 | $25M | $25M | $0 | $25M | $25M | 12.6%

Philip Rivers | 33 | 2015 | 4 | $83.25M | $20.8M | $22.5M | $37.5M | $65M | 14.5%


There are some fans who believe Cousins should get offered over 35M per year and upwards of 40M per year. The issue is age. The Steelers are the only team to give a QB over 35 years old (when Cousins extension will begin) a contract north of 30M per year.

Here is how the different percentages of the cap for QB salary in 2022 …

$208,200,000 | Cap

$24,984,000.00 | 12%

$27,066,000.00 | 13%

$29,148,000.00 | 14%

$31,230,000.00 | 15%

$33,312,000.00 | 16%

$35,394,000.0 | 17%

$37,476,000.00 | 18%

$39,558,000.00 | 19%

If you go by the past and look at the QBs then he probably would slot in at around 13% of the cap based on his age and career achievements.

But would he accept a 27M per year offer in an extension? How many years would be appropriate and agreeable? How much would have to be guaranteed?


Offer 1:

2 yr 56M extension with one void year and all of it guaranteed.

Convert 32M of his 2020 salary into a “bonus” and spread out over 4 years leaving 3M in salary.

4M signing bonus with salaries of 26M each year.

Cap hits would be 22M, 35M, 35M, & 9M (void year).

If he would accept 28M per year in 2 year extension, this pays him at 13.4% of the cap in 2022 and if the cap rises to 220M in 2023, 12.7% of that number.


Offer 2:

1 yr 28M extension with one void year and all of it guaranteed.

Convert 25M of his 2020 salary into a “bonus” and spread out over 3 years leaving 10M in salary.

5M signing bonus with a salary of 22M in 2023.

Cap hits would be 30M, 32M, & 10M (void year).

The question is would he accept a one year extension? I think that a one year extension is the max they should go as it locks them into Cousins for two more years.


Offer 3:

3 yr 84M extension with one void year and 56M of it guaranteed.

35M signing bonus

Salaries of 5M in 2022, 23M in 2023, 28M in 2024, & 28M in 2025.

Cap hits woud be 22M, 30M, 35M, 35M, & 7M (void year).

I do not see a 3 year extension being smart.


2. Trade

What is his trade value? There is tons of speculation from various sources and the differences are broad. There are some who believe he is worth a 1st and some other mid-round pick. There are some that believe they would get a 2nd at best due to his salary. Some of the folks who think the team could get a 1st think they would also have to pay some of his salary. This could be how it ultimately plays out.

Here is an article that speculates in his value …

Colts trade a 2022 first-round pick and a 2021 third-round pick to the Eagles in exchange for Carson Wentz.

Panthers trade a 2022 second & fourth, and a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Jets in exchange for Sam Darnold.

Rams sent their 2022 & 2023 first-round picks, a 2021 third-round pick, and QB Jared Goff to the Lions for Matthew Stafford.

One other article that has been discussed speculates that the Steelers would give up their 2022 first round pick and a 2023 2nd round pick.

https://www.pff.com/news/nfl-realistic-trade-value-landing-spots-quarterbacks-aaron-rodgers-russell-wilson-derek-carr

I think the most likely thing will be that the Vikings will pay 5 to 10M of his salary before trading him and get back at least a 2nd this year plus another future pick.


3. Play it out

Maybe the team could get him to agree to adding one void year so they can convert 30M which spreads 15M over two years?

That would lower his cap hit to 30M, save 15M in cap space, and create a 15M dead money cap hit in 2023.

If that is not an option, then they could just leave his contract as is which I consider the “nuclear” option.

If they did that then they have to trade or extend Hunter which might get you back above water in terms of salary cap space. Then, they probably would have to trade or release Pierce to get to about 8M in cap space which is enough for the rookies.

After that they would have to do some modifications to the other large salaries just to maybe sign a couple of cheap free agents.

Leaving Cousins’ cap hit alone would seriously cripple the teams ability to do much to improve the defense besides via the draft unless a cheap free agent surprises.

I think options 1 and 2 are the most likely to happen.

I do not see any stats or rankings that would justify the team becoming the second one in history to pay a 35 year old QB 30M plus per year.

#13 – https://www.nfl.com/news/nfl-qb-index-end-of-2021-nfl-season-rankings

#13 – https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/32071373/nfl-quarterback-rankings-2021-how-all-32-teams-qbs-stack-weekly-big-takeaways

#9 – https://www.pff.com/news/nfl-final-2021-quarterback-rankings

#12 – https://sportsnaut.com/nfl-quarterback-rankings/

Even the team’s own website posted the nfl rankings with the commentary …

https://www.vikings.com/news/kirk-cousins-nfl-2021-quarterback-rankings

There’s this idea that Kirk Cousins is frustratingly, consistently stuck in the middle. And while that’s true on the macro level, the opposite is also true. Like Cam Newton once upon a time, Cousins is consistently streaky. He’s either great or terrible, and this season was no different. He played like a top-seven quarterback for a long stretch, spinning the ball downfield with incredible accuracy.

Mike Zimmer, knowing his defense was also erratic, finally asked Cousins to be more aggressive down the stretch. The team put more on Cousins’ plate, which folks like me had asked for. Then he fell apart. (Sorry about that.) I think we know what Kirk Cousins is: just good enough to be better than average. He’ll fool you one way or another for months at a time. Is that good enough for the Vikings?

Cousins completed 372 of 561 passes (66.3 percent) in 16 games this past season. He threw for 4,221 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and also ran for a score.

His quarterback rating of 104.1 tied for the fourth-best in the league with Russell Wilson.

Cousins went 8-8 as a starter in 2021, missing a Week 17 game against Green Bay because he was on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

He is 33-29-1 as a starter since arriving in Minnesota.


Conclusion?

If they extend him then that is fine. The owner did state he feels they can still be competitive.

It’s going to be interesting.

Originally posted on Daily Norseman