How Kirk Cousins grew to become the top-earning NFL participant in Forbes’ 2020 rankings

Kirk Cousins was blessed with the right quantity of expertise. 

He is a superb quarterback, however few will anoint him as being nice. In his first 4 years as a full-time starter, Cousins completed every season inside one sport of a .500 report. He is one in all two energetic quarterbacks with a number of ties in his profession. The opposite is Andy Dalton.

He is been to the Professional Bowl twice and, consider it or not, has the second-highest profession completion proportion in NFL historical past. Certain, different quarterbacks have extra expertise than Cousins, however that is not the dialogue. 

If something, Cousins is nice at being good, however not too good. And that is precisely how he grew to become the highest-ranked NFL participant on Forbes’ 2020 listing of the highest-paid athletes on the earth. 

Cousins collected $28 million from the Vikings in 2019 wage. He then signed a two 12 months, $66 million extension this offseason with a $30 million signing bonus due as quickly because the ink dried on the contract. Including in endorsements, Forbes estimates Cousins introduced in $60.5 million within the final 12 months, the ninth-most of any athlete on the earth, one slot behind a fella named Tiger Woods. 

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He advantages in these rankings by primarily getting paid for 2 seasons inside the identical 12-month interval, but it surely’s greater than only a fluke. He ranks so extremely because of efficiently betting on himself. If you happen to’ll keep in mind, Cousins took over for Robert Griffin III because the Redskins’ starter in 2015, the ultimate 12 months of his rookie contract. 

Cousins led Washington to an NFC East division title and a playoff berth in his first 12 months because the full-time starter, whereas additionally main the league in completion proportion. The Redskins weren’t able to commit long run, so that they positioned the franchise tag on him. He made the Professional Bowl in 2016, however the sides nonetheless could not comply with a long-term deal, so the Redskins positioned the franchise tag on him once more, this time at 120 p.c of his earlier wage. 

Lastly, in 2017, Cousins’ skill to be good, however not nice, shined. The group missed the playoffs with a 7-9 report. After three seasons, it was clear Cousins was ok to have success, however not ok to raise a group to greatness with out a gifted supporting solid. A 3rd consecutive franchise tag would have price Washington greater than $34 million for 2018 and made Cousins the highest-paid participant within the league. The Redskins declined and a 29-year-old Cousins hit free company for the primary time. 

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A reliable beginning quarterback hitting the open market in current reminiscence is as widespread as Ben Simmons hitting a 3-pointer: it has occurred twice. Peyton Manning went to the Broncos in 2012 and Drew Brees went to the Saints in 2006, however each of these guys have been coming off accidents. Cousins was wholesome and comparatively younger and had all of the leverage on the earth, which he used to his benefit. 

In 2018, he signed a completely assured three-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings, the primary totally assured contract in NFL historical past.

Within the NBA and MLB, you do not hear issues like “a $90 million contract with $50 million assured” as a result of virtually all of these contracts are totally assured. The NBA is a star-driven league the place the gamers have leverage. The NFL is totally different, except the quarterback, an important place in all of sports activities. NFL groups want good quarterbacks to win (duh), so that they’ll do no matter they should do to get them.

It was thought Cousins’ contract may probably begin a pattern, however no different gamers have signed a completely assured deal since. If Patrick Mahomes or Russell Wilson and even Dak Prescott have been to hit the open market, that might doubtless change. But when an NFL group has an excellent quarterback, it is more likely to do no matter it could actually to lock them into a long-term deal, and quarterbacks are more likely to signal these offers because of the knowledge and safety they supply. Cousins needed to danger enjoying in a contract 12 months for 3 consecutive seasons, however he was rewarded.

In Washington, Cousins fell simply shy of the edge that made him unimaginable to lose for the Redskins. It seems Cousins’ unimaginable skill to be a good-but-not-great quarterback is perhaps a purpose he is the highest-compensated participant within the NFL. If folks on the market are aiming to be nice, then here is a reminder that being good is OK, too. You would possibly even find yourself because the ninth highest-paid athlete on the earth. 

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