Who has the better contract, Russell Wilson or Kirk Cousins?

Getty Images

Russell Wilson signed the richest contract in NFL history. But is it the best contract in NFL History? Maybe not.

An argument could be made that the contract signed last year by Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is better than Wilson’s new deal.

(Let me know when you stop laughing.)

Wilson’s deal commits him to the Seahawks through 2023, at an average payout of $31.4 million per year. Of the $157 million payout, 68 percent is guaranteed for injury and 44.5 percent is fully guaranteed at signing.

Cousins’ contract covers only three years, with an average of $28 million per year. The full amount — all $84 million — is fully guaranteed at signing.

While Wilson is getting $3.1 million more per year, Cousins will hit the market again in 2021. Wilson won’t hit the market until 2024, at the earliest. And there’s an important difference regarding whether Cousins and/or Wilson will hit the open market. Wilson will be subject to the franchise or transition tag. Cousins has a no-transition tag in his contract, and the 44-percent rule (since he’s twice been tagged before) would make his franchise tender a whopping $44 million in 2021.

Whether Cousins will get a market-value deal in 2021 will depend largely on whether and to what extent he plays well enough to merit one. But with the top of the quarterback market already spiking from $25 million per year to $35 million per year in less than 22 months, and with the salary cap poised to continue to spike with a new labor deal, new TV deals, and the growth of legalized gambling, Wilson may soon regret being committed through 2023.

Cousins, on the other hand, may be very happy to be hitting the market at a time when agents and teams will know much more about where the cap is heading than they do now.

80 responses to “Who has the better contract, Russell Wilson or Kirk Cousins?

  1. It all depends on how you look at it. I would say Cousins has the better deal, by far. Anytime you can get paid the most by doing the least amount of work, you’re ahead of the game.

  2. Whether Cousins will get a market-value deal in 2021 will depend largely on whether and to what extent he plays well enough to merit one.

    Every contract is market value, whether you are making 30 million or league minimum.

  3. Mike, Wilson’s extension is a 35M annual deal, which is 25% more lucrative than a younger Cousins’ rare crack at true free agency. I get you strongly dislike Cousins, which is strange, because you’re always pounding the table for QBs to grab every last nickel “for their families” (at the expense of their teammates families).

  4. “Wilson may soon regret being committed through 2023”

    *********************

    Ah, gotta love the mentality of the players these days. They throw tantrums when they get franchise tagged because they want the ‘security’ of a long-term deal. Then when they sign that long-term deal and 2 years later a lesser accomplished player signs a more lucrative deal they throw tantrums again.

  5. The determining factor on whose contract is better is how Cousins plays the next two years. If he can’t lead the team to a lot of success the next two seasons, who is going to give him a big free agent contract? If he has a great year this year, the Vikings will probably extend him after the season and lower his cap number. This fully guaranteed business will not happen again.

  6. stellarperformance says:
    April 16, 2019 at 6:55 pm
    It all depends on how you look at it. I would say Cousins has the better deal, by far. Anytime you can get paid the most by doing the least amount of work, you’re ahead of the game.
    ——————————

    Kirk Cousins in 4 career starts vs the Packers.
    2-1-1
    1,471 yards
    11 TDs
    1 int

    He outplays Rodgers in every matchup and will continue to do so.

  7. As a Viking fan, I can’t wait until Cousins contract is up. He did nothing while in Washington to warrant the contract he got from Minnesota. If he continues to play like he did last year, then in 2021 he will be a backup.

  8. Well, it isn’t really fair to compare, Kirk Cousins had the benefit of negotiating with Rick Spielman.

    Spielman, who was famously ridiculed for dealing away 1st and 4th round picks to secure Sam Bradford in a panicked move after starter, Teddy Bridgewater, went down for the year, has been making questionable moves ever since.

    Spieldope, as he’s become to be known, went into the 2018 offseason with no QBs under contract.
    None.
    Seriously, probably the most important position in the today’s NFL, and he left the cupboard bare.

    With his options dwindling, and having absolutely no leverage whatsoever, the Vikings were forced to give Cousins just about anything he wanted, especially after the Jets got involved in the bidding.

    He was also forced to part with a 5th round pick just to have a backup in place who never even saw the field.
    It’s truly amazing that this fool still has a job.

  9. Russel Wilson has been a top 10 QB since he entered the league. Last year he had a 111 passer rating, the 11th best QBR and was the 7th best QB according to PFF. Whatever metric you value more, still paints a picture that he’s an elite QB. Not at a single point in his career has he had an above average offensive line too. In a couple of years, another QB will get a bigger deal. That’s how inflation works. What were the Seahawks supposed to let him walk or trade him for a pick where they wouldn’t even be in position to draft a young QB? That’s nonsense. The reason the Seahawks aren’t as good as they once were is because Sherman got slower and worse, Chancellor and Thomas have combined to play like 4 games in the last 2 years, Maxwell washed out, Avril retired, Mebane retired, Bennett regressed to a certain degree and their drafting has been pretty bad relative to their 2010,2011 and 2012 drafts.

  10. Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    April 16, 2019 at 7:18 pm
    The determining factor on whose contract is better is how Cousins plays the next two years. If he can’t lead the team to a lot of success the next two seasons, who is going to give him a big free agent contract?
    _______

    What are you talking about?
    He didn’t lead the Redskins to any success whatsoever, but that didn’t stop Spieldope and the Vikings from opening up the guaranteed vault.

    Or are you admitting to the fact that this team actually made a mistake and Rob Brzezinski isn’t quite the magician you all thought he was.
    Well, he did make a whole lot of the Vikings’ money disappear.
    skoLOL!

  11. Whatever! They are both being grossly overpaid. Both teams are hamstrung because of their contracts!

  12. So much for “it’s time to tie a percentage of the cap to an NFL contract.” Wilson wound up taking the same type of deal all players do. Percentage of cap is a nonstarter and always will be.

  13. Wonder when Aaron Rodgers will demand to re-negotiate his deal so he can be top-paid QB.

    Meanwhile, back in New England, the GOAT will go for #7.

  14. Liberalsruineverything says:
    April 16, 2019 at 7:19 pm
    He outplays Rodgers in every matchup and will continue to do so.
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Cousins brought his “A” game to the Viking SuperBowl?

  15. Liberalsruineverything says:
    April 16, 2019 at 7:19 pm
    stellarperformance says:
    April 16, 2019 at 6:55 pm
    It all depends on how you look at it. I would say Cousins has the better deal, by far. Anytime you can get paid the most by doing the least amount of work, you’re ahead of the game.
    ——————————

    Kirk Cousins in 4 career starts vs the Packers.
    2-1-1
    1,471 yards
    11 TDs
    1 int

    He outplays Rodgers in every matchup and will continue to do so.
    +++
    How’s Cousin’s playoff record doing? I’m not a Packer fan.

  16. I want to see an established quarterback take a $15 million deal. So the team can sign other players Be like Tom!

  17. Cousins’ contract is better than Wilson’s by far! Cousins got his contract after multiple franchise tags and accomplishing nothing. Wilson had to win a Super Bowl and almost win a second.

  18. hey waffles, Under Speilman our drafts are ranked in the top 5, packer drafts during that timespan are bottom fan…better worry about your own GM.

  19. Russel Wilson signed a 4 year extension at 35MM/year.
    The existing year doesn’t impact that.
    Its not a 5 year 31.4MM/Y deal. Its a 4 year 35MM/yr deal.

    RW got 25% more tan Kirk and the cap didn’t rise by as much.
    The only way to say Kirks contract is better is that it’s shorter. He better hope he doesn’t get injured that last year.

  20. Kirk Cousins in 4 career starts vs the Packers.
    2-1-1
    1,471 yards
    11 TDs
    1 int

    He outplays Rodgers in every matchup and will continue to do so.

    ———

    Rodgers would tear up the Packers D too. Probably would’ve gotten 3k yards and 30 TDs compared Cousins’s 1471/11.

  21. Cousins has no expectations since everyone knows he’s a bum. Wilson has just crushed any chance Seattle had at winning a SB. For the player, it’s all about the money. For the fans, it’s all about winning…

  22. One of the advantages that the Patriots have is that Brady hasn’t been seeking to be in the top three paid players in a number of years. New England can spend the money they save on 4 or 5 good, but not great players, or any number of role players. When Brady retires, this benefit will as well.

  23. I love how fans trash players especially those in the NFL where the contracts are not guaranteed for getting every last dollar they can but will be so quick to side with billionaire owners when they cut a player two or three years into a deal, and say it’s just business. How can it be just business for the owners, but for the athlete it has to be for the love of the game?

  24. Why the hate for Cousins? He bet on himself twice(2 franchise tags, no complaints), then took what the market was willing to pay.

    If someone offers to pay 2x blue book for a car you are selling… then you take the deal. Its not Cousins fault that the Vikings paid too much.

  25. Kirk Cousins 5 years worth of contracts:

    Franchise tag 2016 – $19.95 million
    Franchise tag 2017 – $23.9 million
    3 year contract with the Vikings – $84 million + $2 million in incentives

    Wilson for 5 years:

    2019 salary – $17,000,000

    New Contract 2020 -2023 (4 years) $140.000.000

    Cousins’ 5 years = $127.85 million – with incentives – $129.85 million

    Wilson’s 5 years = $157,000,000

  26. Wilson is a winner. He can put the team on his back and carry it like few can.
    Kirk can only win if the rest of the team dominates. Kirk will never be able to carry a team because the longer the play goes on the worse he gets. He processes to slow. Meanwhile with Russel the longer you leave him upright the more dangerous he is.
    Both can win a SB but Kirk can only do it with a great team. I hope he does.

  27. In 3 years, Wilson’s Cap hit is lessened by 17 to 23 Million, that will be total added to the team cap over next 3 years. So the contracts is no different than the one he sign after his rookie contract/pct wise. So the Seahawks can win with a cap hit like that. I would take Wilson’s cause of total money. Cousins is not going to get a contract like that again if continues like in 2018.

  28. Cousins will hit the market but he has never really beat anyone. He won’t see the same deal. Wilson cashed in more because he has won.

  29. When Kirk Cousins contract is up he’d already been cut and be a backup for the Browns or for the Foreskins. I’d rather get 65 million for signing my name then to have to play 3 years for team that’s going nowhere. Plus Wilson gets 27 more guaranteed plus he’ll be able to make 34 more million on an extra year then Kirk.
    Kirk hasn’t even sniffed a division championship game let alone a second round of the playoffs. How many times has Russell been to the second round of the playoffs. Most of his career. Been to two Super Bowls only to be misled by his OC on that stupid pass on the one yard line. Idiots keep saying you should’ve handed it off but Lynch was stuffed on the one yard line most of his carries from that spot. It’s not his fault Lockett got man handled by a guy he outweighed and outsized.

  30. Wilson has a no trade clause. That is being largely overlooked. Huge implications, long term.

  31. Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    April 16, 2019 at 7:18 pm
    The determining factor on whose contract is better is how Cousins plays the next two years. If he can’t lead the team to a lot of success the next two seasons, who is going to give him a big free agent contract?
    _________

    He doesnt NEED a big one anymore…. look at Brock Osweiler, and if Ryan Fitzpatrick can land a starting gig Cousins will find one too…

  32. Kirk Cousins 5 years worth of contracts:

    Franchise tag 2016 – $19.95 million
    Franchise tag 2017 – $23.9 million
    3 year contract with the Vikings – $84 million + $2 million in incentives

    Wilson for 5 years:
    2019 salary – $17,000,000
    New Contract 2020 -2023 (4 years) $140.000.000

    Cousins’ 5 years = $127.85 million – with incentives – $129.85 million
    Wilson’s 5 years = $157,000,000

  33. Tom Brady has a better contract than both of them. He allows his team to build a better roster, which is why he has 6 rings. Look at the top 8 highest paid QBs. How many rings? 2? (Garopollo’s 2 bench warming rings don’t count.) I’m all for gettin’ what you can get if that’s your end game. But if you want to be a legend? Squeezing every last dime from the team usually doesn’t get it done. But to answer your question, Kirk Cousins has the better contract. Why? Because if Kirk Cousins can get the contract he got, then hat tip to you. Russell Wilson actually deserves what he got.

  34. Neither; Tom Brady – his deal allows BB to surround him with players who get the Patriots to the plat-off consistently AND to WIN Super Bowls.
    Amen! to the contract nonsense …

  35. Wow! I believe in paying a really good NFL quarterback who can make a difference in winning or losing. However how much represents not being able to pay other players who block for the quarterback or who defend for the team. Moreover paying skill players like receivers also must be considered.

  36. bcgreg says:
    April 17, 2019 at 6:25 am
    Tom Brady has a better contract than both of them. He allows his team to build a better roster, which is why he has 6 rings. Look at the top 8 highest paid QBs. How many rings? 2? (Garopollo’s 2 bench warming rings don’t count.) I’m all for gettin’ what you can get if that’s your end game. But if you want to be a legend? Squeezing every last dime from the team usually doesn’t get it done. But to answer your question, Kirk Cousins has the better contract. Why? Because if Kirk Cousins can get the contract he got, then hat tip to you. Russell Wilson actually deserves what he got.

    all time nfl earners are qbs, 6 of which have won a SB, tom brady is one, don’t act like he doesn’t get paid…

  37. Anyone else tired of QBs getting paid so much? Pay the OL and the DL and the WR and LB/DB. The Men who really put everything on the line every play.

  38. vikesfansteve says:
    April 17, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Cousins should restructure. He won’t though. He will be 3 & done with the Vikings.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    You guys should all be hoping he does whatever he does definitively. Definitively good or definitively bad, even… just so long as it provides Spielman et al clear choices regarding his future in Minnesota. In Washington, he seemed to do just enough that they couldn’t let him go but not enough to actually take them anywhere. The Vikings have a pretty solid roster right now but that’s awfully hard to maintain over time. Five years from now, it could be an entirely different story.

  39. The bottom line is, all QB’s are grossly over paid and they are the reason their teams can’t keep all their good players.
    My opinion on who has the better contract between these two is this: Cousins’ contract is the best in the history of the sport because he is an a-little-above-average QB who has never won anything. The Vikings were just as foolish giving him that contract as they were trading all those picks years ago for Herschel Walker.
    At least with Wilson, the Seahawks have a chance to win. With Cousins, the Vikings have no chance.

  40. Arron Davis says:
    Cant win superbowls if spending 1/4th of cap on a single player.
    ————————————————————–
    Before his new deal, Wilson’s contract was only 14 percent of the Seahawks cap. Now it’s less by $7 million dollars they can spend on other players. Next year the Seahawks will have $90 million to spend on Wilson, Wagner, Clark, and Jarran Reed. They should only have about $30 million left after that.

    Seahawks will have no cap problems going forward haters. Sorry to disappoint you. Have a nice season.

  41. The Almighty Cabbage says:

    April 17, 2019 at 8:01 am

    vikesfansteve says:
    April 17, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Cousins should restructure. He won’t though. He will be 3 & done with the Vikings.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    You guys should all be hoping he does whatever he does definitively. Definitively good or definitively bad, even… just so long as it provides Spielman et al clear choices regarding his future in Minnesota. In Washington, he seemed to do just enough that they couldn’t let him go but not enough to actually take them anywhere. The Vikings have a pretty solid roster right now but that’s awfully hard to maintain over time. Five years from now, it could be an entirely different story.
    =============================
    Cabbage, that is a great point. He does just enough and that isn’t good enough anymore. It is high time he takes the next step. I was not all in on this move for the Vikings for this very reason. I am glad it was only a 3 year deal.

    I really like Sloter, but if they do not think he has the goods, Minnesota should be drafting a mid round QB. I really like Grier. With the way the salaries are exploding for QB’s, they cant give KC another mega deal if he keeps underperforming when it counts.

  42. dynastyfootballforme says:
    April 16, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Mike, Wilson’s extension is a 35M annual deal, which is 25% more lucrative than a younger Cousins’ rare crack at true free agency. I get you strongly dislike Cousins, which is strange, because you’re always pounding the table for QBs to grab every last nickel “for their families” (at the expense of their teammates families).

    ——————–

    Russell Wilson sucks for the next 3 years and gets cut, he nets out less than Kirk in a 3 year window. This only matters if they both suck for 3 years to get cut though, which I doubt.

    Additionally, this is NOT at the expense of the teammates families, as top QBs have always commanded a similar % of the salary cap over time. If a small pie and a large pie are both sliced at the same angles, the percentage of pie remaining is proportionally the same. There isn’t anybody going hungry here.

  43. I was sooooo happy the Vikings paid all that money to Cousin Kirk. Because it insured for at least the forseeable future that the Vikings will continue year after year never having won a championship.

  44. The cousins contract is great for both parties involved. Cousins gets a lot of money and the confidence of the organization paying him. If he goes out and performs he’ll get another huge payday in 3 years. If he doesn’t, he still has all that guarenteed money. On the flip side, the Vikings also got a good deal because they get a really good sample size of Cousins (3 years) to determine if he can take them to the next level. If he performs in Year 2 they found their franchise QB, if he doesn’t, then they draft a RD 1 QB in 2020 and let him develop under Cousin’s final year. Which coincides with some key free agents in 2020 the Vikings will be able to use the recouped CAP space to sign to long term deals.

    The Wilson and Rodgers contracts are great for the players and complete team killers for the organizations. They are stuck in long term contracts with aging QBs eating up huge amounts of cap.

  45. Arron Davis says:
    Cant win superbowls if spending 1/4th of cap on a single player.
    —————————————————————–
    News flash: the salary cap has changed in the last 10 years. It’s proven that most people’s thoughts/feelings/perception of how the world is typically tracks about 20+ years behind the facts of how the world really is.

  46. RW got the better contract by one metric, but Cousins will have been paid better over a 5 year period by another. RW has been exceptional with a tremendous team around him. When the D regularly gives you the ball with great field position, the results are obvious. Now that the team isn’t there, and the division around them is much better, the playoffs will be difficult. RW isn’t good at winning on the road in the playoffs. No 12th man = no playoff wins. Not elite by that metric.

  47. Wafflestomp says:
    April 16, 2019 at 7:41 pm
    Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    April 16, 2019 at 7:18 pm
    The determining factor on whose contract is better is how Cousins plays the next two years. If he can’t lead the team to a lot of success the next two seasons, who is going to give him a big free agent contract?
    _______

    What are you talking about?
    He didn’t lead the Redskins to any success whatsoever, but that didn’t stop Spieldope and the Vikings from opening up the guaranteed vault.

    Or are you admitting to the fact that this team actually made a mistake and Rob Brzezinski isn’t quite the magician you all thought he was.
    Well, he did make a whole lot of the Vikings’ money disappear.
    skoLOL!
    ______________

    If you look at the way the Redskins lost, it was usually because the defense gave up a lot of points. It was reasonable to expect that Cousins would win a lot of games with the Vikings’ defense, but it didn’t work out that way. Given the risk involved with the other options, signing Cousins was still be right move. Bradford is out of football. Bridgewater was coming off the injury and still isn’t a starter anywhere. Keenum was an abject failure in Denver and has already been shipped to Washington, and he got $20 million. So far I’d say the mistake was hiring DeFilippo, who wasn’t ready to run an offense and thought Cousins could carry the team with no help from the offensive line or running game.

    So tell me, what do you think the Vikings should have done coming off a 13-3 season? Draft Lamar Jackson?

    Let’s also keep in mind that Cousins was really not very good last year, and he still outplayed Aaron Rodgers.

  48. Cousins has the best deal. He will still be in his prime when his contract is up in 2 years and will be able to demand $20m+ per season in his next contract as a 33 year old pocket passer. Wilson will be 35 years old at the end of his deal and his scrambling style won’t hold up as he ages.

  49. Lets face facts. Both Cousins and Wilson will likely reach the end of their contracts or extend them. Rodgers will never see the end of his contract. His decline will be complete well before his contract ends yet the Packers will still be having to pay him.

  50. Both contracts are horrible, from a team standpoint. Neither team will every win a Superbowl with either of them on these contracts.

  51. Cousins clearly has the better deal.

    He’s got two years to trick the Vikings into paying him mega millions for years to come.
    Once he gets the Vikings to re-sign him, he doesn’t even have to play well.

  52. No doubt Cousins. He should have his photo on every Post Office wall for Grand Larceny. I know the Vikings could never prosecute him because they would have to go after Spielman first for impersonating a General Manager.

  53. yeah but Spielman will draft CB, DL, WR before considering improving his OL because…. Spielman is playing chess (against himself) while everyone else is playing checkers. Cousins will be out injured after 3 weeks and out of the league by the time the Vikings are done with him – so there’s that…

  54. Do I think Cousins deserves $28 million a year? Nope but people are leaving out Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy did less than Kirk to get $27.5 Million a year from the Niners. Who might get beaten out by Nick Mullins next year. He drove the market up with that signing. Now Wilson did here, the NFL has to get a handle on these QB salaries. They are ruining teams and then the NFL game.

  55. Well, this is pretty easy to evaluate – let’s look at the math. It doesn’t matter about future free agency dates, 44% rule, franchise tags, etc – the question was who has the better contract.

    Cousins is guaranteed to get $84m
    Wilson is guaranteed to get $69.86m (44.5% of the $157m contract is fully guaranteed)

    Since I believe that many math majors would agree that 84 > 69, it appears as though Cousins has the better deal. Are there any questions?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!