A common concern among Vikings fans is the Kirk Cousins contract. The QB is paid an awful lot even though team success hasn’t been a large part of his career. Derek Carr finds himself in a similar tier: a good-but-not-great QB who divides onlookers and evaluators. A critical difference rests in the deal he signed to stick around Las Vegas.
A couple things got me thinking about this. First, there was the debate about Cousins being overrated, an issue that largely stems from the massive money. Second, it was some time I spent earlier in the week watching the Broncos take on the Raiders toward the end of last season. These things prompted me to head to Over the Cap to see about the finer details of his deal.
The most obvious discrepancy between the two deals is that Carr will only carry a $19.375 million hit into 2022. That’s a long way off from Cousins’ $31.416 million hit. The more than $12 million in cap space can accomplish a lot for a roster. Depending on how creative management gets with term and/or void years, $12 million can bring in one or two great players.
Of course, Carr’s hit jumps to $34.875 million in 2022, but so too does Cousins’ hit jump to $36.250 million. So, it’s a slight advantage for the Raiders. The real difference rests in the guarantees. Las Vegas can move on with a mere $5.625 million dead cap hit (that’s not a lot, folks; the current dead money hit from Anthony Barr’s deal is $9.89 million). Cousins, in contrast, would leave behind $48.75 million in dead money, meaning it’s essentially impossible to cut him.
Statistically, Cousins is the better player. In fact, his numbers look a fair bit better than Carr’s numbers. Consider a side-by-side comparison from last season:
Carr has a sizeable lead in yards and is a couple points higher for the completion percentage. What really sets Cousins apart, though, are the TDs and INTs. It’s possible we ought to also mention that Cousins finished 6th in the PFF QB rankings whereas Carr was 13th. For whatever it’s worth, PFF seems to suggest that Carr is the better player in their article ranking NFL QBs.
The advantage for LV is that they get a QB who has a similar ability as Cousins for considerably less money while also having future flexibility. Minnesota wasn’t able to accomplish the same thing. In 2022 and 2023, the Vikings will hope Cousins finds a way to ascend into elite so that he isn’t overpaid.