Kirk Cousins didn’t sign a long-term contract with Washington before the deadline on Monday, locking him into a one-year contract under the franchise tag that will pay him $23.94 million in 2017. He believes that might be the best-case scenario, though.
In an interview with 106.7 The Fan, Cousins said that short-term contracts are the smartest option for NFL players and his argument has merit.
“I just think the structure of the NFL is such that one-year deals are the best option,” Cousins said. “This is not baseball. This is not basketball. These contracts are not fully guaranteed.
“Essentially, eight or nine out of 10 players are playing on one-year deals. Most of us don’t have guarantees beyond the first year, and if we do, it’s only for the second year, so it’s really a two-year deal. It may say five-, six-, seven-year deal — that’s just not the case. So if the best we can get is a two-year deal, I might as well just keep playing on one-year deals and give myself some freedom on the other side.”
Le’Veon Bell made a similar decision, spurning a contract offer from the Pittsburgh Steelers that didn’t guarantee him much security.
With so many players hoping and opting for long-term security, Cousins’ opinion is a rare one, but also logical. For most players in the NFL, finding any kind of deal that secures their future past the upcoming season is difficult.
"I think we all as players would like to see more guarantees....I believe coaches contracts are fully gtd & front office contracts" -Cousins— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) July 18, 2017
Cousins has had the chance at significant guarantees that few players ever receive, though.
A long-term deal with Washington could’ve netted him a large chunk of guaranteed money, but the fast-rising salary cap would’ve meant Cousins would’ve quickly fallen into the category of underpaid if his play remained consistent.
If Cousins’ play doesn’t drop off and he avoids injury, he can continue to leverage the quarterback market to be one of, if not the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. Of course that’s a big risk, but so is committing to a deal that would’ve given the second-highest average salary per year and would’ve quickly shuffled down the list of top contracts.
For now, Cousins is locked into a one-year deal and will sit at the negotiating table again next spring. Signing another short-term deal would be a very unorthodox way of handling his impending free agency, but Cousins is clearly thinking about his contract status differently than most.