Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots fortunate to see Kirk Cousins stay in NFC

Alex Reimer
March 13, 2018 - 1:24 pm

Kirk Cousins’ reported three-year, $86 million deal with the Vikings is a win for many parties. Most importantly, it’s a win for Cousins, whose self-confidence paid off in a big way. Cousins opted to play under the franchise tag for two seasons with Washington, earning more than $43.75 million in that time span. With this deal, which ESPN’s Adam Schefter says is fully guaranteed, Cousins will make out with nearly $128 million in five years. 

Not bad for a guy who the Redskins didn’t think was worthy of a long-term contract. 

Over the last three seasons, Cousins, 29, has statistically been one of the most prolific passers in the NFL. He’s thrown for at least 4,000 yards in each year and completed 67 percent of his passes. In 2015, his first season as the primary starter, Cousins led the league in completion percentage and with 29 touchdown passes. 

With those numbers, Cousins represents an immediate upgrade from the Vikings’ previous quarterback trio –– Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. Paired with one of the top defenses in the league, Cousins will be expected to take the Vikings deep into the playoffs, despite only leading Washington to the postseason once. The Vikings paid a big price for Cousins, but now they’re poised to challenge the Eagles once again for NFC supremacy.

Cousins could have provided an AFC team with a big boost. It was easy to imagine the Broncos competing with Cousins at the helm, but instead, they signed Keenum to an undisclosed deal. The fact the figures from the contract haven’t been leaked yet suggests Keenum won’t be making anything close to what Cousins will earn. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles’ new extension, three years and $54 million with $26.5 million guaranteed, appears to be an apt comparison. 

Though Keenum played well last season –– 22 touchdowns and 98.3 QB rating –– he was either putrid or mediocre in his previous six seasons. He’s an upgrade over Trevor Siemian and could be a decent placeholder. But he’s nothing more.

That’s a victory for the Patriots, who tend to always benefit from these sorts of things. Cousins also won’t be going to the Jets, meaning they’ll be forced to choose from three undesirable options: throw some of their league-leading cap space at a second-tier passer (A.J. McCarron, Nick Foles), retain Josh McCown and have him start for one season while a rookie develops, or start a rookie outright. Either way, that’s not a recipe to compete in 2018. With Cousins, who would’ve been the best non-Tom Brady QB in the division since a 38-year-old Brett Favre, the Jets could’ve been equipped for a wild card run.

Another productive quarterback escapes the AFC. It’s a good day for the Patriots, who will host Cousins and the Vikings next season. 

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