Will Kirk Cousins’ next contract tie compensation to cap percentage?

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Several franchise quarterbacks who previously received big-money contracts are seeing those contracts pale in comparison to more recent contracts, thanks to the consistent growth of the salary cap. So when will a franchise quarterback (or any other player) manage to tie his compensation to the growth of the cap?

Already, the various baseline franchise tenders flow each year from the percentage of the cap that past tenders have consumed, guaranteeing that, as the cap grows, the tenders grow. So why can’t a player get similar protection in the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth years of his contract?

It’s a simple concept, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement permits it. A contract can be written to provide, for example, that a player’s salary in 2021 will be $24.1 million or 15.2 percent of the cap, whichever is greater.

Those numbers weren’t randomly selected; $24.1 million is what Jimmy Garoppolo will make in year four of his new contract, and his $27.5 million average represents 15.2 percent of the projected $180 million cap for 2018. If the cap grows to $200 million by 2021 (getting a Thursday night bump of either $100 million per year or $210 million per year, depending on which report is believed, will help), 15.2 percent of a $200 million cap would equate to $30.4 million.

It’s unknown whether Don Yee (real or fake) tried to get a term like that for Garoppolo. Others have. Eight years ago, agents Neil Schwartz and Jonathan Feinsod attempted to secure a cap percentage for cornerback Darrelle Revis from the Jets. Two years ago, quarterback Kirk Cousins tried to get the same protection from Washington.

As free agency approaches, Cousins may be in the best position of any player to finally pull it off. Assuming Washington isn’t dumb enough (that could be an ass-you-me proposition, given the team’s history) to tag Cousins again, Cousins should be able to dictate terms to interested teams. It only takes two to generate real leverage. Cousins may have four or more chasing him.

So the message from Cousins and agent Mike McCartney would be clear: Don’t submit an offer unless it ties every year after 2020 or 2021 to a percentage of the cap.

Of course, the rejoinder may be a two-word phrase ending in “you,” especially if the Management Council gets involved. Even though the NFL consists of 32 independently-owned franchises that, in theory, compete in every way possible, the Management Council routinely tells teams what they should or shouldn’t (or perhaps more accurately can or can’t) do when it comes to player contracts.

Of course, all it takes is one team to direct that two-word refrain to the Management Council, if that team is more insistent on getting Cousins than it is on staying in the good graces of those who pull the strings at 345 Park Avenue.

If, in the end, Cousins pulls it off, he could set the template for all of the other quarterbacks and high-value players who could have, and arguably should have, been insisting on this type of protection in the past. Which would make Cousins a trailblazer in two different ways, given that he already has demonstrated to all current and future players the value of going year-to-year under the franchise tag.

48 responses to “Will Kirk Cousins’ next contract tie compensation to cap percentage?

  1. Sounds like a contract move that only the Browns Front Office could pull off. One that would hamper them for years to come

  2. Have you ever thought of trying to be the players association president? It seems like you are always trying to advise them through this site. If their total comp would be based on the salary cap, why would management agree to a “whichever is greater” term, it should either be based on the cap or not.

  3. No team will ever do that. Part of a contract’s purpose is to help teams plan/allocate cap room for future years. Tying a salary to a percentage of the cap would make that very difficult to do.

  4. I like Cousins and think the Redskins made a mistake, but there is no way he isn’t the highest paid QB in the league after free agency right? Rodgers deal is coming up and he’ll surely blow all that away, but Kirk Cousins is going to be the highest paid QB surpassing…..Jimmy Garrapalo…….wow

  5. He’ll be over paid, but most are. I really think he is a decent QB
    and he should be on those teams list who need one.

  6. A percentage of the salary cap?

    How about tying his compensation to the teams’ won/loss record?

    So far he’s been royally paid for some pretty mediocre results.

  7. Why would ANY team do this??? The ONLY cap related benefit of having a top tier QB (or any player, but QB’s garner more money) on a long term deal is the fact that, in theory, as the cap goes up, your team will have more money to spend on other positions.

  8. The NFL and NFLPA colluded to reduce the contract amounts given to Rookies and instead compensate Veterans…

    Well Kirk has broken the spirit of that collusion…the only reason he risked playing on a franchise tag is because QBs are heavily protected…he wouldn’t have dared do it if he played a more injury prone position…

    This will come back to haunt the NFLPA during the next collective bargaining agreement negotiations…the Redskins did everything right, but Kirk broke the players end of the deal…

  9. This sounds good in theory. The truth is, it would eliminate any signing bonuses up front. Right now, they get a large amount of money “up front” that is spread over the life of the contract. Thus, the $15MM they get in a latter year, coupled with the pro-rated signing bonus, jacks their actual pay up to $20 – $25 million. No player would be willing to give up the signing bonus up front to have a raise in the latter years of the contract.

  10. Or, you know he could take less then the absolute maximum so that he could be part of a competitive team.

    Let’s be honest, one of the Pats biggest competitive advantages was that they had a QB who was taking less then the maximum, that allowed them room for error when trying to get free agents (most of the pats big name free agents didn’t end up working but it didn’t kill them cap wise cause of the extra room from Brady).

    If you look at those top end QB deals, one thing they have in common is that non of them won Superbowls on that big money deal.

    Cousins probably makes more in the long run if he can be playing for a perpetual contender rather then being overpaid and playing for a 9-7 pretender.

  11. Guess who would scream first if the salary cap ever decreased! The golden goose is ripe to take a bath.

  12. And as a team, I would say, O.K. we will tie your increases and decreases to the cap if you will tie your salary to Super Bowl wins!!! No SB win league minimum. SB win, you get your cap tied salary. Now that is a win/win deal!!! Anything else is just silly.

  13. I would guess most teams will have a picture of SB 52 MVP QB Nick Foles on the table. He is playing on a 5 year deal (2) that is the same amount Kirk will be asking for per year.

    QB is the most important position but it way more important to have a team, close team, well coached. The Pats have proven this for over decade and a half.

  14. najacoo22 says:
    February 10, 2018 at 10:49 am
    No team will ever do that. Part of a contract’s purpose is to help teams plan/allocate cap room for future years. Tying a salary to a percentage of the cap would make that very difficult to do
    _________________

    Not necessarily now the front office knows that they have 15.2% of your cap tied into one player and they have 84.8% of the cap to spend on the rest of their roster.

  15. Isn’t it asinine to pay QBs on a percentage of the cap? The cap growing is supposed to lift all ships. TBH Nick Foles busts up the idea that QBs are singularly valuable. Foles did great, but it was because of the rest of the team he had around him, or he would have been a starter for years. Paying QBs so incredibly much is getting ridiculous.

  16. The team that commits to the giant guarantees demanded by Kirk Cousins will ultimately regret it. He’s good but does anyone really believe that he is worth more than any other QB in the NFL? His agent successfully played hardball with the Redskins by refusing to sign any long term contract proposal presented over the past 3 years. Why do you think the Redskins rushed to commit so much to Alex Smith? Because they finally have a long term agreement with a QB. Whoever signs Cousins will significantly overpay and this proposed wording of the percentage of the salary cap, just further reinforces the mercenary they are negotiating with. Buyer beware!

  17. Arnold Ziffel says:
    February 10, 2018 at 10:59 am
    A percentage of the salary cap?

    How about tying his compensation to the teams’ won/loss record?

    So far he’s been royally paid for some pretty mediocre results.

    —–
    Only simple fans think won-loss record is the QB’s end all be all. If I have a QB that averages 4000+ passing yards, 27 passing Tds, and 12 ints, to go with a QBrating of 98 and 68% completion over 3 years I would like to think I’d be smart enough to know my problems don’t lie with my QB play but rather with my defense that consistently ranked in the mid to low 20s.
    That’s without even getting into the nonexistent running game.

  18. Those who say that Cousins will be overpaid haven’t actually seen how awful this team is on defense and how its running game is stagnant and the offensive line is simply dreadful.

    Having watched Joe Theisman on video, I can say that Cousins is superior to Joe Theisman on all levels – he had a superior offensive line and running back talent and defenses.

  19. WAAAY too much money. There are other positions that put their health and physical condition
    in more harms way. just think if every good player got that, we would have 7 man teams! TOTAL!!!!
    Also remember every time that cap goes up, you dig deeper in your pocket for tickets!
    I think it is time for FANS to go on strike!

  20. Bad idea, Right now the teams front-load their contracts, which is to the player’s benefit. They wouldn’t offer as much first-year money if they know there’s no relief in sight.

  21. No team will agree to do that with Cousins. Maybe if this was Rodgers hitting the market at age 29 but not an average passer. Cousins really only fits for a team that can do a deal like the 49ers did with Jimmy G. If you have the cap space next year to give him a big roster bonus and the team to back him up he can be worth it. Giving Cousins a huge signing bonus and salary cap hit for the next 5 or 6 years would be crazy. Cousins puts up decent numbers but he isn’t going to carry a team. Guys like Rodgers, Brady or even Big Ben would have Washington in the playoffs more times then not.

  22. No team is ever going to agree to this because it takes away the advantage of signing a long term deal in the first place. The whole idea is to make the contract as cap friendly as possible so you can add other key players when needed. The idea that the QB would get a raise every single year and take up max amount of space would make zero sense for the team. It would also lead to other positions trying to also get those kinds of deals and create an eventual tier system in which some positions would take up a disproportionate percentage of the cap, causing other positions to be paid little in comparison. The QB contracts are already out of hand. Tying their contracts to cap percentage would be a disaster.

  23. If a player wants to be paid based on a percentage of the cap, he will be offered less than current contracts, because with built in raises it will go up each year.

    A team can afford to over pay a QB lnowing that in a couple of years the higher cap will allow them to retain him and pay for other players. If they didn’t have that future cushion they would lower their offer by a few million, say 1.5% of the cap, because they would be paying more later.

  24. Because Kirk doesn’t already have enough pressure on his back while signing his new bloated deal, he might as well negotiate for 10% of home concession sales as well.

  25. It’s funny how a garden variety qb like Kirk Cameron could get this much $$. Ask the Ravens where Flacco has gotten them since his outrageous deal.

  26. Imagine baseball and basketball players being constantly pressured to take team friendly deals. It’s an epidemic in the NFL how ownership use fans to make the players feel bad if they take top top top dollar. Ownership sucks…..team is losing…’ohh how can be direct some blame on that linebacker contract hurting our cap’. When in reality, it’s the owners who have the best of everything. They make boat loads, hard cap the players earnings, then manipulate public perception so fans are anti player in almost all matters.

  27. This narrative is getting tiresome. The one about “franchise” quarterbacks milking their teams every year for all they can get. But quarterbacks are judged on how many titles they win. And fleecing your team rarely leads to Super Bowl victories.

    There is a reason Tom Brady keeps going back to Super Bowls. It’s because he values Super Bowls over the money. He knows leaving money for the team means better players around him. Sure Cousins could demand a percentage. But to what end. He’d be a little richer, but he’s not going to any Super Bowls on his talent alone.

  28. No one is ever going to do this, and for a simple reason: because it adds uncertainty and makes planning future years more difficult.

    Right now, the 49ers know exactly how much Jimmy Garoppolo is going to cost each year. They can plan around it. They might not know what the future values of the cap will be, but that’s the ONLY variable involved. Everything else is fixed constants.

    Pegging contracts to cap percentages makes both the cap number and those particular contracts into variables. No team is going to agree to turn player cap numbers into moving targets.

  29. Ultraviolet Thunder says:
    February 10, 2018 at 12:54 pm
    Those who say that Cousins will be overpaid haven’t actually seen how awful this team is on defense and how its running game is stagnant and the offensive line is simply dreadful
    ______________________

    Uhhhh and why do you think the team was unable to fill the other positions with quality players? Couldn’t be the absurd tender they placed on their quarterback, could it?

  30. Again, why is this such a pressing issue? We’re seriously supposed to be engrossed over whether or not a player gets $27.5 or $27.9 million in a given year?

    The simple solution to this “problem” has been staring Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, et al, in the face for decades now: only sign one-year contracts. If they’re so insecure that they simply must be the highest paid player at all times, just sign a one-year contract for whatever that amount is each year. Bam! No cap percentage nonsense needed.

  31. 6thsense10 says:
    February 10, 2018 at 12:18 pm
    Arnold Ziffel says:
    February 10, 2018 at 10:59 am
    A percentage of the salary cap?

    How about tying his compensation to the teams’ won/loss record?

    So far he’s been royally paid for some pretty mediocre results.

    —–
    Only simple fans think won-loss record is the QB’s end all be all. If I have a QB that averages 4000+ passing yards, 27 passing Tds, and 12 ints, to go with a QBrating of 98 and 68% completion over 3 years I would like to think I’d be smart enough to know my problems don’t lie with my QB play but rather with my defense that consistently ranked in the mid to low 20s.
    That’s without even getting into the nonexistent running game.
    ………………………………………………………………………
    those numbers are cause they’re always down…look at bortles 2015 numbers.2016 they were crowning him 2017 running him out of town…week 17 vs giants tells me all i need to know about cousins..

  32. Under the current system the truly great quarterbacks will always get paid more across the course of their careers. The Brady, Manning, Rodgers and Roethilsberger types will earn a new blockbuster contract every 4-5 years until they retire. That’s 3, maybe 4 blockbuster deals in a career. The Cousins, Kaepernicks, Keenums, Wilsons and Bortles types will get one deal and kill their teams in the process, because their talent can’t carry a cash-strapped roster. There’s already too much stupid money tied up in just average QBs.

  33. Cousins will sign in Denver. Elway will sweet talk him like he did with Manning, expect now he’s wearing a Super Bowl ring and it’s only 2 years old. The Broncos are a way more stable franchise than the s–t show of incompetence that defines the Redskins. Cousins took them to the playoffs in 2016 and they rewarded him by trading their 2 best WRs and replacing them with less talented players. Who sets up their Pro Bowl QB to fail like that? Elway needs Cousins to succeed. Since Manning retired, he’s struck out on every QB he’s drafted or tried to trade for. Add in his bad drafts and fans around Denver will start turning on him if he strikes out again.

  34. The reason a team would sign a long term contract is to lock a player up at a certain fixed price. It is like getting a fixed rate mortgage for a house or condo. you know what your mortgage will be, without worrying about a rise in interest rate. You also take a risk that the interest rate may fall but then you are still free to refinance if it does.

    Therefore a team would probably not want to agree to a contract that would be similar to a variate rate mortgage, unless the starting cost is low.

  35. the implication is that this is good for players when all it means is that other players on the same team who are already paid much less,
    get even less.

  36. the implication is that this is good for players when all it means is that other players on the same team who are already paid much less,
    get even less.

    that’s fine i suppose but foolish to portray it as a great leap forward in fair compensation.

  37. Why should other teams look forward to overpaying Cousins because Washington mishandled the guy for years? This guy has been way overpaid, understand it’s the agents job to get the most for both. He and his agent might be in for a surprise.

  38. As a Vikings fan I don’t want Cousin’s unless he takes a bit less to come to MN. MN made it to the NFC Championship and has a good team to push again this year into the playoffs and if Case wants to win and get paid decent MN is the best spot. Denver will have to gut their team due to lack of cap. I’d rather re-sign Keenum for a decent deal that doesn’t hurt the team and keep building the offensive line and defense line’s. Lack of deph at that, is what ultimately hurt the Vikings in the NFC Championship, not Keenum. The Eagles dominated in the trenches.

  39. Give Cousins $15-17 million a year. If he wants more tell him and his agent you aren’t serious about playing on a good team. I do not want him taking up a lot of cap space.

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