Kirk Cousins is quickly becoming the unsung hero of the NFL players, their Dark Knight if you will. In an era when Steph Curry (NBA’s Golden State Warriors) and Zack Greinke (MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks) are scheduled to earn over 34.4 million dollars in their next seasons, the NFLPA is becoming one of the laughing stocks of sport unions. We already know that the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA has been a farce for its players, but with these new contracts mounting in the NBA and MLB, it seems that the NFLPA did a worse job than previously thought.
Washington Wizards’ Otto Porter just signed a 106.5 million dollar contract where he is slated to make 26.6 million dollars per year, when the NFL’s highest paid player is Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr at 25 million dollars per year. A small forward who has yet to earn an official accolade in the NBA is making more than arguably the best young talent in the NFL. We can debate how much NFL players should be paid according to team size and league profit relative to the NBA and other leagues, but here’s the kicker: 74% of Porter’s contract is guaranteed while just 56% of Carr’s contract is as such. A star player playing a much more violent, shorter-careered, and more profitable sport than basketball, is set to have nearly a quarter less of his contract guaranteed than an NBA role player. In fact, most star NBA players have fully guaranteed contracts and all MLB contracts are guaranteed.
Under current CBA rules, NFL star players have little to do to fight these contract standards other than to use good ole American capitalism to improve their value in the market provided. That’s where the NFL’s Dark Knight swoops in and takes on the witless henchman: the Washington Redskins’ front office. Most NFL fans know the Redskins to be a dysfunctional franchise, but their failure to give Cousins a long term deal may do more than just hurt their foreseeable future in pursuit of a Super Bowl. It may send ripples throughout the entirety of NFL contract negotiations, at least for the most important position in all of sports. Cousins just became the first quarterback to be franchise tagged in consecutive seasons and is not seen by many analysts as a top 10 quarterback in the NFL. The Redskins marketed Cousins at 22 million dollars per year, but Cousins is guaranteed $24 million under the franchise tag in 2017. Cousins also knows he has other suitors that would pay him the equivalent of a franchise tag salary or more in a multi-year deal including the San Francisco 49ers. The Redskins have now dumbassed themselves into a corner: either sign Kirk Cousins to an NFL megadeal, let him go, or perhaps trade him and lose the most sought after commodity in all of sports, a franchise quarterback. I doubt even the Redskins’ front office would consider franchise tagging him for a third time.
If Kirk Cousins eventually receives the megadeal in excess of 70 million dollars guaranteed, it will be interesting to see how the 2018 quarterback free agent class pans out. The class consists of QBs like Teddy Bridgewater, Jimmy Garoppolo, Matthew Stafford, and Drew Brees. If Kirk Cousins can land a 5 year, 120 million deal with $70 million guaranteed or more, guys like Drew Brees should expect huge pay days in the near future.