Kirk Cousins

Poll: Which Team Best Addressed QB Spot This Offseason?

This turned out to be an important year for quarterback acquisitions. Many teams’ short- and long-term futures will depend heavily on the players they added over the past two months.

A fourth of the NFL made major investments in outside talent at the quarterback position this offseason. Which team did you think is in the best position after all the dominoes fell?

Three teams acquired their unquestioned starters via trade or free agency. The Redskins’ trade for Alex Smith ensured they were not going to pick a quarterback in the draft. As did the Vikings’ subsequent Kirk Cousins agreement. The Broncos entered the draft as a borderline QB destination, but John Elway valued Bradley Chubb more than Josh Allen or Josh Rosen, eschewing a Bills offer that would have given his team extra first- and second-round picks. So, Case Keenum is going to be Denver’s starter.

Four of the five teams that used first-round picks on quarterbacks made sure to add bridge-type solutions, with the Browns moving first to get Tyrod Taylor. The Jets and Cardinals then respectively proceeded to bring in Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. And the Bills made the final stopgap addition in A.J. McCarron. But these players, for the most part, are 2018 placeholders — at best.

Was Baker Mayfield worth the No. 1 overall pick? Or did the Browns make what could turn out to be the costliest of their spree of modern quarterback misjudgments last month? Several Cleveland executives independently rated Mayfield as the draft’s premier passer, going against the grain of the many teams that viewed Sam Darnold as this year’s top passing prospect. The Jets appear to have appreciated this bold move, and Darnold is almost certainly going to see extensive time in 2018. PFR readers believe he will.

The Bills worked the phones relentlessly in an effort to install Allen behind McCarron, and the Cardinals reportedly had the Wyoming prodigy rated as their top QB as well. But Allen could need extensive seasoning, and as of now, a returning playoff team has a fifth-year player with 133 career pass attempts set to open the season and possibly close it as the starter.

Conversely, the player the Cardinals invested in was tabbed by many draft experts as the readiest pro. And Bradford being in front of Rosen for 16 games may be asking a lot from the injury-prone veteran. The Ravens are already planning Jackson packages, and although the player whom some teams wanted to work out as a wide receiver may need a season to develop, this draft’s most dominant college QB resides in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco.

Armed with one of the league’s most talented rosters, Minnesota had the most obvious case to pursue a veteran. And the Vikings made history by authorizing a $28MM-AAV fully guaranteed deal for the soon-to-be 30-year-old Cousins, who may be the safest option among all of these players. But he’s now the league’s second-highest-paid passer and tethered to the Vikings through 2020. Smith is coming off his best NFL season, but his Chiefs teams disappointed in two home playoff opportunities. Washington could also be much further away from contention than Minnesota, and the Redskins have now brought in quarterback who for all the stability he offers is four years older.

It’s debatable the Broncos’ contention window could still be open, with many of their core Super Bowl 50 performers still on the team and having played the past two seasons without much help at quarterback. But a 5-11 team armed with only its second top-five pick since 1992 passing on two coveted QB prospects to pursue the 30-year-old Keenum, a late-blooming talent or a player who benefited from better circumstances, could also be classified as a bold choice as Rosen and Allen’s careers unfold. The Broncos only committed to Keenum for two years and are paying Football Outsiders’ No. 4 2017 DYAR passer $10MM less per year than Cousins commanded.

So, with all things considered, which of these franchises is best set up after this offseason? Did one of the teams that spent a first-round pick on a QB ensure a decade and then some of stability and promise? Or did the teams that went strictly for vets get this right? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Contract Details: Cousins, Bradford, Poe

Here are figures on some of the recent contracts signed around the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless noted otherwise.

QB Market Fallout: Cousins, Cards, McCown

The 2018 quarterback market sent several players to new teams as likely starters. But Kirk Cousins was clearly the prize. Three teams submitted offers. Here’s the latest fallout from the Cousins deal as well as teams’ decisions to sign other quarterbacks, courtesy of TheMMQB’s Peter King.

  • While King reports the Broncos indeed did not submit an offer to Cousins’ agent, Mike McCartney, the Cardinals did. They pitched their Patrick Peterson– and David Johnson-fronted core of young players, but McCartney told King Arizona finished third in this derby. Steve Keim was the first GM to call McCartney on Monday morning when the tampering period began, but McCartney told King he called Keim back that night and could not confirm Cousins would visit Arizona. The Cards then pivoted to Sam Bradford.
  • As reports over the weekend confirmed, the Jets were second, per King. McCartney didn’t confirm to King the Jets made the best offer, but both Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News and ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported they proposed a $30MM fully guaranteed deal, but he said New York pitched its cap space and Cousins’ familiarity with the kind of offense new OC Jeremy Bates would run. However, McCartney placed a call to Mike Maccagnan at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday and could not guarantee Cousins would visit. “That was a tough phone call,” McCartney said, via King. “They were clearly frustrated. They wanted to be guaranteed a visit. I told them I couldn’t guarantee a visit, that if he goes to Minnesota and loves it, he could sign. They were not happy about that. I understand, but I told everyone all along what the rules were, and we abided by them.”
  • Envisioning a “silent auction”-type format, McCartney told teams to come in with their best offers. However, he appeared to be surprised the Broncos didn’t make one. King reports John Elway liked Keenum “a lot” and didn’t want to pay “in the neighborhood” of $30MM per year for Cousins. The price tags for the slew of veterans on the Broncos’ roster, many of whom lobbied for Cousins to come to Denver, influenced Elway’s Keenum choice to sign Keenum for $18MM AAV. King adds Elway did not want the process to drag into Thursday or Friday and his roster not having a starter-caliber veteran quarterback on it.
  • The Jets immediately began talking to McCartney about one of his other clients, Josh McCown, but their $10MM offer — a career most for the soon-to-be 39-year-old quarterback — may have come because the Bills were strong pursuers as well. King reports Buffalo was “seriously interested” in McCown, who signed for $4MM more than he did last year. Buffalo ended up landing A.J. McCarron for less money per season.
  • The seven-team research list McCartney’s office compiled earlier this offseason included the final four teams, but also featured the Bills, Browns and Dolphins. Going into the final week, King notes McCartney and Cousins felt the Jets and Vikings had the edge but acknowledged the Broncos and Cardinals were still in the mix. McCartney told teams a fully guaranteed contract was important during this process. It’s unclear if the Cardinals offered that, but the other two proposals were for fully guaranteed deals. The agent confirmed only the Vikings, Cardinals and Jets made offers, and Minnesota’s included the pitch of possibly being in position to win multiple titles with Cousins as the missing piece. King notes Minnesota’s new stadium and new facility also surfaced during the team’s over-the-phone proposal.

Contract Details: Cousins, Graham, Davis

Let’s take a look at the most recent new contracts around the NFL:

  • Kirk Cousins, QB (Vikings): Three years, $84MM. Guaranteed salaries of $22.5MM, $27.5MM and $29.5MM. Guaranteed $500K workout bonuses each year. Up to $2MM in incentives per year. No-trade clause and a no-transition tag provision in 2021 (Twitter link via Dan Graziano of ESPN).
  • Jimmy Graham, TE (Packers): Three years, $30MM. $11MM signing bonus, $300K per-game roster bonuses each year. $2MM base salary in 2018, $3.45MM in 2019 and $7.45MM in 2020. $5.67MM 2018 cap number. $5MM roster bonus due on third day of 2019 season (Twitter links via’s Tom Pelissero, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein).
  • Demario Davis, LB (Saints): Three years, $24MM. $16MM guaranteed. $9.2MM signing bonus. Annual salaries of $850K, $5.95MM (guaranteed) and $7.35MM. (Twitter links via Graziano and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Jeremy Hill, RB (Patriots): One year, $1.5MM. $150K signing bonus. $1M base salary. (via Pelissero, on Twitter, and’s Mike Reiss).
  • Bruce Ellington, WR (Texans): One year, $1.25MM. $730K base salary, $200K signing bonus (via Wilson, on Twitter).

Jets Made Multiple Offers To Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins‘ agent had his staff do research on seven teams leading up to his client’s historic opportunity, and the quarterback had narrowed his list down to four finalists entering the week.

The Vikings, Jets, Broncos and Cardinals were the official final four, Jenny Vrentas of reports. But by Monday, the Broncos pivoted to Case Keenum, and Vrentas adds the Cardinals were out by Monday night. However, the Jets — as the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta reported — were in the mix until Tuesday.

Rich Cimini of reports the Jets finished second in this race and indeed also offered Cousins a fully guaranteed deal — three years and $90MM — and were ready to go punch for punch with the Vikings if they had to. Gang Green even sweetened its initial offer for the 29-year-old passer, but he ended up choosing a Minnesota path instead.

The Jets were terrific,” Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent, told Cimini. “I have a lot of respect for Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles and their staffs. Jeremy Bates was very attractive to me, personally, for Kirk to fit into his offense. At the end of the day, it was close.

I think Kirk decided to visit Minnesota first. Some of it is gut feel, some of it probably the fact that they were in the NFC championship game. But it was not an easy decision.”

Each of the four finalists had a chance to present cases to McCartney, Cimini reports, but Cousins’ camp — per Vrentas — called the Jets on Tuesday morning and informed them the seventh-year quarterback was planning to visit the Vikings first. That apparently was enough to convince the AFC East franchise it wasn’t going to win this race.

The Jets then moved on to their Josh McCown/Teddy Bridgewater backup plan, and Maccagnan has now made a trade to vault from No. 6 to No. 3. The Jets leapfrog the Broncos, who may now be less inclined to take a quarterback at No. 5, and are in position to outflank the Bills. Buffalo is targeting a top-five pick for a quarterback.

Jets Offered Kirk Cousins $30MM Per Year?

A report emerged Friday that the Vikings did not make the best offer for Kirk Cousins, and it was rather easy to speculate which franchise did. And some details on the Jets’ process have emerged.

The Jets may well have been the runners-up for Cousins, and they are believed to have made a $30MM-per-year offer for the quarterback, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports.

Cousins’ agent, Mike McCartney, said the Vikings’ offer was “not even close” to the best for his client. And a previous report had the Jets ready to offer a boatload for the 29-year-old passer. And it’s quite possible they could have offered a $30MM-AAV fully guaranteed deal. That would have qualified as a better proposal than what Cousins accepted.

While the Vikings didn’t make the best offer, the one they did make comes with some historic provisions: an $84MM fully guaranteed deal, a no-trade clause and the prevention of placing the franchise tag on Cousins once the deal expires, Mehta reports.

During his press conference in Minnesota, the now-wealthier quarterback said he did some scouting on the city while he was in town for Super Bowl week, informing his wife that “everything was checking the boxes” in Minnesota. The Redskins agreed to trade for Alex Smith while Cousins was in Minneapolis, so the Vikings may have been the frontrunners from the start — even though it wasn’t yet known if they were going to place the franchise tag on Case Keenum. Mehta adds Cousins was not believed to have made a trip to the New York/New Jersey area for Jets-scouting purposes.

As far as the Jets go, being so committed to chasing Cousins harmed their free agency prospects, Mehta writes. Although they feared the Vikings in this chase, they were still holding out hope as of Tuesday morning he could be swayed to come to New York. The Jets reporter notes the team could not make sizable financial proposals on Monday because of the commitment they would have needed to make to Cousins if he were to sign with them. Mehta reports the Jets gave Cousins a deadline on Tuesday morning.

After Cousins-to-Minnesota became an accepted reality on Tuesday, however, the Jets sprang into action — most notably with their Trumaine Johnson commitment. New York signed both Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater to serve as a bridge to the likely passer the team will draft at No. 3 overall.

Another theory at Jets headquarters is McCartney helped arrange Cousins going to Minnesota to help Josh McCown — also a McCartney client — receive a better Jets offer. While that may be a bit extreme, since McCown got $4MM more in 2018 ($10MM) than he did in 2017, Mehta reports that is a real sentiment with the Jets.

Agent: Kirk Cousins Had Better Offer

Kirk Cousins made history when he inked a three-year, fully-guaranteed $84MM contract with the Vikings. However, it sounds like the quarterback may have left some money on the table. Agent Mike McCartney told Chad Graff of The Athletic that Cousins didn’t take the best deal before signing with Minnesota.

“We didn’t take the best offer,” McCartney said (via Twitter). “Not even close.”

It’s unknown who Cousins specifically rejected. The Jets, Cardinals, and Broncos had all expressed interest in the quarterback. Considering New York’s cap space, it’s easy to assume that the Jets may have had the highest offer on the table, but that’s just my speculation.

The $28MM annual salary for Cousins was a bit shy of what we expected, but the guaranteed money ultimately proved to be unprecedented. Our own Zach Links had previously speculated that Cousins could have had better offers on the table, but surmised that he leaned towards the Vikings since they would give him an opportunity to win right away.

The 29-year-old Cousins finished last season having completed 64.3-percent of his passes for 4,093 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Officially Sign Kirk Cousins

The worst kept secret in football is no longer a secret. The Vikings have officially inked quarterback Kirk Cousins to a three-year, fully guaranteed deal. 

Cousins now takes the reins of a Vikings team that came one win away from a Super Bowl appearance. Last year, Case Keenum transformed from an NFL afterthought to a legitimate NFL starter. Cousins comes in with a much stronger resume and, frankly, a sharper skillset.

Cousins’ three-year contract is worth a reported $84MM. The $28MM average annual value is less than anyone expected, but the deal is revolutionary in that it is 100% guaranteed. Cousins’ deal figures to shape the future deals of other quarterbacks, including upcoming extension talks for Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, and other star signal callers.

There were plenty of clubs interested in Cousins – including the Jets, Cardinals, and Broncos – but Minnesota wound up being Cousins’ first and only free agent visit. The Jets had the most cap room of the bunch to work with, by far, but Cousins apparently valued the opportunity to win right away with the Vikings. The Jets wound up going to their Plan B by re-signing Josh McCown and adding Teddy Bridgewater. The Cardinals inked Sam Bradford to a short-term deal that will cost less than Cousins’ deal, but is still fairly hefty with $20MM coming to him in 2018. The Broncos, meanwhile, were the first of the group to sign a QB by inking Keenum.

[RELATED: Vikings Depth Chart]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Broncos, Cousins, Coleman

Despite the Broncos being interested in Kirk Cousins throughout the offseason, they moved on Case Keenum and reached an agreement before the Cousins domino fell. The Broncos, who do not have as much cap space as their top Cousins competitors do, spoke with the quarterback’s representation on Monday but did not submit an official offer, James Palmer of reports (on Twitter). The team’s Keenum agreement being at least $18MM represented a significant discount from Cousins’ near-$30MM-AAV deal — one expected to be with the Vikings. Despite Cousins having proven more than Keenum, Broncos brass moved quickly on this agreement and was on the same page about the belated breakout passer. Palmer reports that went a long way toward completing this deal. Gary Kubiak is currently serving as a top Broncos front office bastion. Kubiak initially brought Keenum into the NFL as a UDFA while serving as Texans HC.

Here’s more from Denver and elsewhere around the league on Day 2 of pre-free agency.

  • Now that the Broncos lost one of the UFAs they were trying to keep, when Corey Nelson agreed to terms with the Eagles, Denver is trying to retain a higher-profile linebacker. The Broncos are expected to try and ramp up their efforts to retain Todd Davis before he hits free agency on Wednesday, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter). This would continue a change of pace for the John Elway-era Broncos. Previous offseasons saw off-ball ‘backers Wesley Woodyard, Nate Irving and Danny Trevathan depart. But in 2016, Elway authorized an $8MM-per-year deal for Brandon Marshall. Davis almost certainly won’t cost that much, profiling as more of a two-down thumper than sideline-to-sideline rover who can reliably operate in coverage, but he won’t come cheap since he’s been a two-year starter on one of the league’s top defenses.
  • Kurt Coleman took two visits before agreeing to join the Saints, meeting with the Giants and Bengals, Josh Katzenstein of tweets. Coleman has bounced around the league, with his most recent stop being his most notable since the Panthers deployed him as a three-year starter — including in Super Bowl 50 — and signed him to an extension in 2016. Despite having played for three teams and having started 74 games, Coleman won’t turn 30 until July. The Giants are in need of a safety to complement Landon Collins. The Bengals, though, don’t have as obvious a need on their back line.

Vikings Likely To Sign Kirk Cousins

It’s not a done deal, but it’s getting close. Kirk Cousins is likely to sign with the Vikings, sources tell Adam Schefter of (on Twitter). It would be a three-year, fully guaranteed contract (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, agent Mike McCartney is doing his best to pump the brakes. 

No final decisions have been made,” McCartney said. “The plan is to visit Minnesota first. That’s all we can say right now.”

The Jets, of course, have had their eye on Cousins for months. The Cardinals were also hoping to get involved, but their limited cap space was a major obstacle in the Cousins sweepstakes. The Broncos were also said to be in the “final four” for Cousins at one point, but they moved quickly to sign Case Keenum early Tuesday morning. It’s quite possible that Denver sensed that Cousins was likely to go to Minnesota, driving them towards Keenum before another team could scoop him up.

Cousins made the Vikings his first visit on Tuesday — without also scheduling a Jets visit. These visit arrangements becoming public is not permitted, however, by an odd rule. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explains, negotiations between a player’s agent and a team can take place during the tampering period. But plans for a meeting are not yet allowed. This could put the Vikings in position to be punished in a fashion similar to the Chiefs, who were docked a 2016 third-round pick for tampering with Jeremy Maclin in 2015.

Reportedly, the Vikings have offered Cousins a three-year deal with a $28MM annual salary. That annual figure is a bit shy of what we expected Cousins to land in free agency, but it may come with an unprecedented level of guaranteed money. It’s also possible that Cousins has better offers out there, but he may lean toward the Vikings since they would give him an opportunity to win right away.

The Vikings came one game away from reaching the Super Bowl last season with Keenum at the helm. As good as Keenum was in 2017, Cousins would represent a significant upgrade under center for this talented Vikings squad.

This would bring an end to Cousins’ lengthy run of complicated offseasons, at least for a while. It stands to arm the Vikings — the NFC’s No. 2 seed last season — with a quarterback upgrade. Minnesota has uniquely advanced to its past five playoff brackets, dating back to 2008, with five different passers — none of which repeating the feat with the team.

Minnesota will also be in position to win one of the most competitive races in free agency history, thus forcing Arizona and New York to scramble for other possible veteran solutions. It would make A.J. McCarron and Sam Bradford logical targets for these teams, each hoping to secure a Cousins commitment and thus more security at American sports’ premier position. However, the Jets are eyeing Teddy Bridgewater as a Plan B at this juncture.

This deal coming to fruition would obviously represent a seismic turn of events taking place. Cousins’ shorter-term pact would potentially put him back on the market after his age-32 season. It also could be a massive domino for his peers.

A player being signed to a fully guaranteed contract opens the door, at the very least, to other quarterbacks being able to demand the same kind of agreement. Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan are two beneficiaries on the surface. Each has achieved more than Cousins and is either already in talks with this team (Rodgers) or entering a contract year (Ryan). This could also potentially blaze a trail for players at other positions in high-leverage situations to be able to command similar accords, striking a major blow for the labor force in the nation’s most popular sport — a group that sees its MLB and NBA peers lap it when it comes to guarantee percentages.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.