Few NFL players have worked the system to their advantage better than Kirk Cousins.
The 2012 fourth-round pick, taken by Washington in the same draft that resulted in three first-round picks and a second-round pick being used to get Robert Griffin III, played out a pair of franchise tags in 2016 and 2017, earning $19.95 million and $23.94 million, respectively, before becoming a free agent.
He signed a three-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings in 2018, with a two-year, $66 million extension added in 2020. That extension includes a $35 million base salary for 2022 that, as of today, becomes fully guaranteed.
Cousins explained last month on PFT PM that he’s content to finish his current contract with the Vikings, with another extension or restructuring. Given the dynamics of the franchise tag (he’d be entitled to a 44-percent raise over his $45 million cap number in 2022), the Vikings won’t be able to keep him from walking away in 2023.
That’s possibly when he’ll reunite with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.
Wherever Cousins goes in 2023, he will have made $193.89 million over seven years. As of today, the last portion of it — $35 million in 2022 — becomes fully and completely guaranteed.