The floor keeps getting higher for Kirk Cousins.
In March, when Brock Osweiler jumped from the Broncos to the Texans for a contract that averages $18 million per year, that was generally accepted to be a floor for a Kirk Cousins deal. Osweiler had just seven NFL starts under his belt and his play was just OK. Cousins was coming off of a very good, 16-start season. If Osweiler was worth $18 million per season then Cousins was worth at least that much.
Yesterday the floor shifted.
Andrew Luck signed an extension is worth about $25 million per year. Luck was the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, he has three Pro Bowls on his resume and his teams have been to the playoffs three times and have won three games. He clearly is a cut above Cousins, who has one season as a starter and the Redskins have an 0-1 mark in the playoffs with him at quarterback.
But that doesn’t mean that Luck’s big payday won’t affect Cousins. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Luck’s deal is a rip tide that will raise the salaries of all competent quarterbacks who are fortunate enough to become free agents.
So what is the minimum that Cousins should expect now? It’s hard to see his agent settling for a dime less than $20 million per year on average. That’s 80 percent of Luck’s take on his extension. Even that number may be low but it seems to work as an absolute rock-bottom minimum.
The per-season average money is only one factor in evaluating the value of a contract. Guaranteed money is perhaps even more important. Luck’s extension contains $84 million in guarantees. If we take the same 80 percent of Luck’s guarantees and apply them to Cousins then the Redskins’ QB should figure on something in the neighborhood of $65 million guaranteed.
The Redskins are surveying the landscape. Right now their stance is that they want to see Cousins produce something similar to his 2015 season again before they commit anything close to Luck-type money to him.
They might look at Luck’s deal, wonder how much it will cost them to lock up Cousins if they wait a year, and push to get a deal done by the July 15 deadline. If they are going to make a serious push, however, they had better be willing to start with an annual average value with a “2” in front of it and a pile of guaranteed money that starts with a “6”. It’s doubtful that Cousins’ camp will entertain anything less.