Kirk Cousins' contract with the Falcons has been blown out totally of proportion

Kirk Cousins' contract is not what it seems. The Atlanta Falcons will be paying Cousins middle-of-the-league money for a quarterback.
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Tost by Tostitos / Jesse Grant/GettyImages

You have probably heard by now that while the Atlanta Falcons signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract, Cousins won't see almost half of those numbers when it is all said and done.

After the selection of Michael Penix Jr., the media went into a frenzy. The media and fans did not understand why the Falcons would sign a quarterback to a large contract only to take a QB with the eighth overall pick.

You have to dig deeper to see why they were okay doing that. The Falcons won't be paying an exurbanite amount of money for the veteran, instead, they will be paying him as an average NFL QB.

Falcons will be paying Kirk Cousins an average salary due to a backloaded contract

Kirk Cousins did not sign a four-year, $180 million contract, he signed what is essentially a two-year contract. Now, following the selection of Michael Penix Jr., that only becomes even more true.

When looking at Cousins' cap charges over the next two years, he will only count $25 million against the cap in 2024 and $40 million in 2025.

Here are where his cap hits rank in the NFL in both 2024 and 2025:


  1. Deshaun Watson: $63.8M
  2. Dak Prescott: $55.1M
  3. Russell Wilson (Broncos): $53M
  4. Matt Stafford: $49.5M
  5. Kyler Murray: $49.1M
  6. Daniel Jones: $47.9M
  7. Patrick Mahomes: $37M
  8. Lamar Jackson: $32.4M
  9. Jared Goff: $32.3M
  10. Josh Allen: $30.4M
  11. Joe Burrow: $29.7M
  12. Jimmy Garoppolo (Raiders): $28.3M
  13. Geno Smith: $26.4M
  14. Kirk Cousins: $25M


  1. Patrick Mahomes: $66M
  2. Deshaun Watson: $64M
  3. Derek Carr: $51.5M
  4. Matt Stafford: $50.5M
  5. Joe Burrow: $46.3M
  6. Lamar Jackson: $43.7M
  7. Kyler Murray: $43.3M
  8. Josh Allen: $43.2M
  9. Daniel Jones: $40.6M
  10. Dak Prescott: $40.1M
  11. Kirk Cousins: $40M

Let me say it again, Kirk Cousins' contract is not a contract that reflects a top-ten quarterback—which is something he is. The Falcons signed him to a smart deal that gave them the flexibility to make the Michael Penix Jr. selection.

Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo, and likely Dak Prescott in 2025 will have higher cap hits on teams they aren't even on than Cousins. Guys like Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Geno Smith, and Derek Carr will have higher cap hits in at least one of the next two seasons than Cousins.

The Falcons will likely release Cousins after his second season and while they will eat $25 million in dead cap, that is more than workable, especially when the salary cap will likely rise two more times by then.

The Falcons did not just sign a top-ten contract at quarterback and then draft one in the top ten, they signed an average quarterback contract and then used a top-ten pick on a QB. There is a huge difference.


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