Kirk Cousins' trade with the Falcons will spread across the NFL, from Justin Fields to Jared Goff and the draft

Once again, Kirk Cousins ​​has a Super Bowl title in the checkbook. Once again, the victory will spread across the NFL and into many different franchises, impacting the landscape of contract extensions, trades and the upcoming draft.

The subtext of Cousins' four-year, $180 million agreement with the Atlanta Falcons includes $100 million in hard guarantees that will boost his earnings to… at least $321 million during his career. It's another win in a long string of victories for the quarterback and his agent, Mike McCartney of VaynerSports, who have achieved an incredible streak of 11 straight years of fully guaranteed salary. During this period, Cousins ​​will have bolstered both the quarterback's salary cap — with his 2018 deal with the Minnesota Vikings, which at the time made him the highest-paid player in the NFL — and also a solid string of second-tier quarterback contracts with fully guaranteed money. .

All this despite only winning one playoff game, which ultimately didn't matter as much at the negotiating table as Cousins' willingness to execute his trade and choose his next destination in free agency. He did so with Washington and found a home with a Vikings franchise that was in desperate need of a good start. Then he did it again this week, quenching the Falcons' thirst for a final solution to a persistent problem at the position.

This latest deal wasn't just about securing another portfolio. Atlanta is actually an attractive place for the veteran, who turns 36 in August and now finds himself in the middle of a stacked offense, running the same scheme Sean McVay learned under Kevin O'Connell in Minnesota.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - DECEMBER 31: Kirk Cousins ​​#8 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on from the sidelines before the game against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 31, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Stephen Maturin/Getty Images)

Kirk Cousins ​​added to his winning legend this week. (Photo by Stephen Maturin/Getty Images)

This was a deal that made sense for the player and the team. More than the alternatives for each party, which would have unfolded with Cousins ​​getting less guaranteed money to commit to the Vikings, putting the Falcons in the position of either dealing Justin Fields (who is at a very problematic spot in his rookie contract) or settling on a rookie quarterback from The second notch is not among the “Big Three” in the draft: USC's Caleb Williams, LSU's Jayden Daniels, and UNC's Drake Maye.

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Now the Falcons have a veteran answer at the position and Cousins ​​has two more years of guaranteed money and a wealth of talent around him on offense.

While the Falcons and Cousins ​​will emerge as winners on Monday, there will be a host of other teams and players affected as well. among them …

If the group of general managers who spoke to Yahoo Sports in December is to be believed, the trade market for the Bears' quarterback has always been weak. At best, the ceiling was viewed as a second-round draft pick, with the caveat that Fields needed to have a strong finish to the 2023 season. But the majority of general managers saw his value as some sort of compensation in the third round or perhaps lower, assuming a number Enough teams are interested in creating a market. Instead, the opposite has happened, with a strong class of rookie quarterbacks available, as well as three other veteran players — Cousins, Baker Mayfield, and Russell Wilson — all potentially on the market. Wilson's intended signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Mayfield getting an extension with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers effectively removed two potential trade suitors from the mix.

But it was Cousins' move to Atlanta that proved most damaging to Fields. Not only was he written off by the franchise he was interested in, but the benefit of opening up another starting QB spot in Minnesota was ultimately negated by the Vikings and Bears being in the same division. While it's not unprecedented to deal a quarterback within the division, it's rare and fraught with potential disaster for the Bears if Fields develops into a quality starter in Minnesota.

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Given that reality, it leaves a dwindling number of potential destinations if Fields wants to be traded to a team looking for a starter. There are the Las Vegas Raiders, who will reportedly sign Gardner Minshew on Monday and could still take a rookie QB in the first round. And there are the Denver Broncos, who could also take a rookie in the first round.

Given the fifth-year option pending on Fields' current contract — which is unlikely to be activated and leaves him with one year remaining on his deal — it makes both of those destinations less likely.

Draft quarterbacks from the “Second Tier” Vikings, Broncos and Raiders

Right now, the rookie quarterback class is made up of the elite upper tier — consisting of Williams, Daniels, and Maye — followed by the second tier of Michigan's JJ McCarthy, Oregon's Bo Nix, and Washington's Michael Penix Jr. Any member of that trio could have been in play for the Falcons' No. 8 overall pick in the draft. Now it looks like there's a possibility that none of them will make the top 10, unless the New York Giants make a surprise pick at No. 6 overall. Of course, that's excluding a trade from one of the teams ranked 11th (Vikings), 12th (Broncos) or 13th (Raiders). Within that trio, only the Raiders have a veteran player in Minshew who has shown his ability as a bridge starter. All three of these teams could be looking to pick their pick at the second level, which could necessitate a move into the top 10 if one QB emerges as a better option after the big three.

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Detroit Lions and Jared Goff (plus all the other future QB extensions)

Cousins' deal with the Falcons will impact Goff's extension talks. Not only is Goff younger (29), he has made far more in the postseason than his cousins. What once looked like it could be a $50 million-per-year price tag for the Lions' quarterback is now essentially guaranteed.

Players like Dak Prescott and Trevor Lawrence are unlikely to be affected because each of their extensions could be record-breaking. But Goff – until now – was not considered a member of that company.

Detroit's NFC title game run in the playoffs could have already changed his salary cap. The Cousins ​​deal certainly puts an end to it.

Two prominent agents with a history of making quarterback deals said Monday night that given the Cousins ​​deal, Goff's floor should start inside the top five quarterback deals. If Lawrence and Prescott get their deals done first and reset the market, that would put Goff's minimum salary at around $52 million…if he doesn't give the Lions some sort of discount.

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