The pursuit of Kirk Cousins will be one to watch for a number of teams, but for the Arizona Cardinals the idea of Cousins seems unlikely at best and more likely, impossible.
Yet, as the official numbers come pouring out of the Jimmy Garoppolo deal with the San Francisco 49ers, the structure of the contract could be slightly altered and imitated to get the Cardinals and Cousins together.
First, here is a breakdown via Adam Schefter of Garoppolo’s contract.
Now, first, let’s assume the numbers move from $27.5 million a season to $28 million a year to make Cousins the highest paid player per year in NFL history.
The “guarantees” will be about the same, likely raised to $75 million to again make him the highest, but it is an injury guarantee of that much.
When you look at Garoppolo’s contract, it would make sense to give Cousins the same type of deal, roughly $62 million the first two seasons.
That would effectively eliminate the Cardinals from contention because they can’t match a number like, especially in 2018.
Except, there are a couple of sneaky bookkeeping ways around this.
One, the Cardinals could essentially do the deal the same and flip the year one and two. Give Cousins his guaranteed bonus in 2019, when the Cardinals have $103 million in cap space as of this time. That means a year one cap hit closer to $19 million, not $42 million.
Or, the Cardinals could do a similar deal, but spread the bonus out over all five seasons, lowering the 2018 cap number significantly to make it more palatable and keep them in play for a free agent or two, something they do frequently.
Again, this all is under the assumption that the Cardinals are real players, allegedly one of five or six teams in the sweepstakes. It also assumes that Cousins would be okay doing a deal structured in such a way that it would allow the Cardinals the flexibility to pursue additional free agents in 2018 before their big free agent spending sprees coming in 2019 and 2020.
The question, would Cousins like to come to a team like Arizona?
They can no doubt make the astronomical numbers work, but would they be able to persuade Cousins to come to the desert?