Kirk Cousins contract, explained: How Vikings QB cashed in on historic NFL contract



Kirk Cousins is making family bread in 2021.

The Vikings quarterback cashed in on a big-money deal in 2018, signing an NFL first fully guaranteed contract, which turned out to be less of an indicator of the future of NFL business.

MORE: The NFL’s 25 highest-paid players

Now, Cousins’ contract remains something of an anomaly across the league, even though he set a very interesting precedent for his deal. Since then, quarterbacks have gotten paid, but not to Cousins’ level.

Here’s everything you need to know about Cousins’ contract:

How much does Kirk Cousins make?

Cousins signed a contract extension in March 2020, keeping him pinned in Minnesota through the end of the 2022 season.

The contract Cousins signed was worth $66 million total over two years.

  • Average annual salary : $33 million
  • 2021 base salary: $21 million
  • Total contract value: $150 million (2018 and 2020 contracts combined)
  • Fully guaranteed : $150 million

Cousins signed with the Vikings prior to the start of the 2018 NFL season after spending the first six years of his career with Washington. During free agency, he was down to two teams: The Vikings and Jets. 

The Jets reportedly offered Cousins a three-year, $90 million contract, which was also fully guaranteed. Cousins would elect to sign with the Vikings for a lesser contract.

Kirk Cousins contract

In March 2018, Cousins signed a three-year deal worth a total of $84 million. While the yearly rate isn’t exceptional for a QB, it was the NFL’s first ever fully guaranteed contract, making the deal historic.

Prior to the expiration of Cousins’ contract in 2020, he signed a contract extension in March 2020, keeping him locked in Minnesota through the 2022 season. The extension was also fully guaranteed and gave him a bit of a bump. 

Here are Cousins’ yearly salaries courtesy of OverTheCap:

Year Age Base salary Guaranteed salary Prorated bonus Cap number Cap %
2018 30 $22.5 million $22.5 million $1.5 million $24 million 13.5%
2019 31 $27.5 million $27.5 million $1.5 million $29 million 15.4%
2020 32 $9.5 million $21 million $11.5 million $21 million 10.6%
2021 33 $21 million $21 million $10 million $31 million 16.6%
2022 34 $35 million $35 million $10 million $45 million 21.2%

The contract also comes with some incentives, per Spotrac:

— Win Super Bowl: $500,000

— Win Super Bowl and rank in top eight in points: $1 million

— Win Super Bowl and rank in top five in points: $1.5 million

— Win Super Bowl and rank in top three in points: $2 million

NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks

There was a time when the Vikings passer was among the highest paid in the NFL, but now, Cousins, maybe surprisingly, actually doesn’t rank in the top 5 of NFL quarterbacks and their contracts.

Here’s the highest paid QBs by AAV:

Rank Player Average annual value
1 Patrick Mahomes $45 million
2 Josh Allen $43 million
3 Dak Prescott $40 million
4 Deshaun Watson $39 milllion
5 Russell Wilson $35 million
T-6 Aaron Rodgers $33.5 million
T-6 Jared Goff $33.5 million
8 Kirk Cousins $33 million
9 Carson Wentz $32 million
10 Matt Ryan $30 million


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