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.