Full-fledged NFL free agency doesn’t arrive until Wednesday, but Tuesday was bonkers anyway. On the first complete day of the legal tampering period, the top five quarterbacks slated to hit the market reportedly agreed to deals, the most intriguing impending free-agent offensive lineman unofficially became the highest-paid guard in league history and a pair of top-notch 24-year-old receivers got mega-paid. Not only did the 29-year-old quarterback become the highest-paid player in NFL history by agreeing to a three-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings worth $28 million per season, but all $84 million are guaranteed (per ESPN’s Adam Schefter).
That means that Cousins will make at least $128 million over a five-year period between 2016 and 2020. Not bad for a fourth-round pick who started just nine games during his first three seasons and has seen most of his rate-based numbers decline ever since a strong first full campaign as Washington’s starter in 2015. Cousins is good, but he hasn’t experienced a playoff victory, he’s been to just one Pro Bowl and it’s possible he benefited from the system he played in and the weapons that surrounded him during his first two seasons as a starter. Sean McVay was Cousins’ offensive coordinator when he broke out in 2015 and made the Pro Bowl in 2016, and he was lucky to have a top-notch receiving corps and one of the best offensive lines in the league. With McVay, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon gone and the line ravaged by injuries in 2017, Cousins had his worst season as a regular starter. But that didn’t stop the Vikes from giving him more money per year than any player in the history of professional football. And basically every other quarterback in the world That Cousins deal set the market going forward, but it’s not as though the rest of the quarterbacks scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on Wednesday fared poorly during the legal tampering period. Case Keenum, who was middle-of-the-pack backup until 2017 and has one good season under his belt, is signing a two-year deal with the Denver Broncos that is worth at least $36 million (per Mike Klis of 9 News). Sam Bradford, who has made a habit of failing to deliver on big contracts and has missed the vast majority of three of his last five seasons, managed to convince the Arizona Cardinals to give him a one-year, $20 million deal (according to Albert Breer of The MMQB). Drew Brees got $27 million guaranteed from the New Orleans Saints at the age of 39 (Schefter).
And you know that if Teddy Bridgewater finalizes a deal with the New York Jets it’ll pay him at least $15 million a year despite the fact the 25-year-old hasn’t completed an NFL pass in two years. And non-free-agent quarterbacks are also undoubtedly thrilled with these numbers. Because now Aaron Rodgers is criminally underpaid at $22 million a year, as are Matt Ryan at $20.8 million, Tom Brady at $20.5 million and of course Jared Goff and Carson Wentz (both of whom make just shy of $7 million per season on entry-level contracts).
It’s only a matter of time before several of those guys surpass the $30 million plateau. Keenum is coming off a better season than Cousins, they’re basically the same age and Keenum probably has more tread on his tires, and yet he’ll cost Denver far less than Cousins will cost Minnesota. That’ll give general manager John Elway more room to breathe on the market.
Put another way, you’re better off with Keenum plus a $10-million-a-year player than Cousins on his own. Watkins is a 24-year-old top-five draft pick with the ability to become a top-end No. 1 receiver, but it’s pretty amazing he and his agent were able to land a top-end No. Read more from bleacherreport.com…
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