There's no debating how much money Kirk Cousins will make over the next three years: the Vikings quarterback this offseason. There's not any injury guarantee or incentives or any other frills. It's a very simple, very large deal he signed in free agency.
But he could have had more. It was reported the, but it was confirmed by Cousins himself, thanks to Cousins hiring a camera crew to follow him around in free agency.
The first part dropped on Vikings.com this week and it's a fascinating look into the life of a free agent. It opens with Cousins talking to his agent Mike McCartney and it goes through his decision.
All the things we talk about ... Cousins is talking about. He sees John DeFillipo with the Vikings and is literally surfing Wikipedia to see who he's worked for and who he's worked with.
"For me it's important not only to be with a guy who can help us win, but to be with a guy who can help us win and make it enjoyable," Cousins remarks.
The specifics of the negotiation are laid out in bare form as well, with Cousins talking to McCartney on the phone and then relaying the information, in front of the cameras, to his wife Julie.
"Mike just called, and the Jets came up to $30 [million per year]," Cousins says after hanging up the phone. "Fully guaranteed, three-year deal."
"Whoaaaaaa," a stunned Julie responds.
That's the appropriate response! Cousins has a $90 million, fully-guaranteed offer in hand from New York, just four hours into the process. He doesn't even necessarily want more either, and makes it clear that the $90 million might be bait for the Vikings, who he clearly sees as a better option for him than New York. It should.
"Mike, he's just got to do the same thing with the Vikings. He's got to get them from $25 [million per year] to something that's competitive with the Jets offer," Cousins says. "But the fact that we have the Jets offer is huge, because it gives other teams a reason to come up."
And that's exactly what happened -- the Jets had $90 million on the table and the Vikings came up from $75 to $84 million in order to lure Cousins to Minnesota. If you want to know the price of playing for a Super Bowl contender versus playing for a fringe playoff team, it's roughly $3 million per year, at least in Cousins' world.
"I think as important as the overall dollars are in a contract, I think in my situation, structure is as important if not more important," Cousins says. "We want the money to be fully guaranteed. My preference would be to get a fully-guaranteed contract or to stick to one-year deals."
That, to me, might be the most interesting part of all this. Cousins was willing to keep doing one-year contracts if he couldn't get a fully-guaranteed deal. Everyone had a "woe is me" line for Cousins getting jerked around on the tag -- and it's certainly unfair that the Redskins had too much control over his decisions -- but it's clear he doesn't mind the concept of going year-to-year.
Or maybe the year-to-year thing is all about Washington: being trapped somewhere he wasn't happy made him willing to sacrifice long-term security and other financial issues in order to ensure happiness as a player.
The full ramifications haven't been felt yet, but Cousins deal was absolutely a gamechanger in terms of contract negotiations. And he knew it at the time, which makes his documentary even more fascinating to see unfold.