Kirk Cousins’ Deal Not So “Bad” after Derek Carr’s New Contract

Derek Carr's New Contract Dwarfs Kirk Cousins' Deal
Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr became a richer man on Wednesday, signing a three-year contract extension worth $121.5 million.

Sometimes around the league, Carr experiences the “Kirk Cousins treatment” where fans and pundits lump the men together as decent-but-mediocre passers. And most of those criticisms are rooted in “quarterback record,” a pseudo statistic some folks relish because it likens individual football players to tennis players or golfers. “How many games has Derek Carr won and lost” is the mindset behind a quarterback’s record.

Well, Carr has a 57-70 (.448) quarterback record, and that evidently doesn’t deter Las Vegas from committing for an extra third of a decade. Hell, Las Vegas gave Carr a no-trade clause, as the Vikings did for Cousins.

Carr’s deal will afford the passer an average annual salary of $40.5 million, instantly the fifth-most in the NFL. Cousins takes a backseat to Carr and others, earning $35 million per season — or now the eighth-most for a quarterback leaguewide.

Kirk Cousins
Aug 29, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

And the sudden dip for Cousins to “eighth-most” is noteworthy because football personalities, amateur and professional, spent months decrying Cousins’ scheduled $45 million cap hit against the Vikings 2022 books. In the end, the naughty $45 million figure never materialized as the 2022 offseason was always an inflection point to reevaluate Cousins’ future with the Vikings. It was much ado — rampant panic — about nothing.

The Vikings new brand of leadership decided Cousins was the right quarterback to lead the franchise for at least two more years, and lowering the $45 million cap hit to $35 million per season was the meet-in-the-middle solution.

Based on Carr and Cousins’ recent performance, the pay wages should be flipped. Cousins has been more productive than Carr amid the last four seasons. Plain and simple. It’s painful for some to stomach, but the numbers aren’t false.

According to numbers, Carr and Cousins live in the “Stafford range,” accruing lofty numbers — but waiting on the right roster to, alas, breakthrough for February trophy-hoisting.

Jan 15, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams believed the strategy was possible with Stafford. The Raiders endorse it for Carr. And, of course, the Vikings are in the same boat for Cousins.

It doesn’t hurt matters that Kevin O’Connell is now the Vikings skipper. He helped unlock Stafford.

Furthermore, don’t look now, but Cousins is the least expensive of the Stafford-Carr-Cousins trio.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).