- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2018

Kirk Cousins and his agent owe the San Francisco 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo a thank you note before he hits free agency next month.

The 49ers agreed to make Garoppolo the highest-paid player in NFL history Thursday — giving him a five-year, $137.5 million contract with $74 million guaranteed. The new deal sets a new bar in cash, but not total guarantees.

San Francisco committed to Garoppolo after the 26-year-old started just five games, throwing for 1,550 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. 49ers general manager John Lynch previously identified Garoppolo as the team’s franchise quarterback, trading away a second-round pick to the New England Patriots before the NFL trade deadline.

With Garoppolo’s new contract, the 49ers also avoided having to undergo a similar ordeal that the Redskins went through with Cousins. Like Cousins, Garoppolo was set to be a free agent and many speculated if San Francisco would issue the franchise tag on Garoppolo to secure his rights.

But getting a deal done nearly a month in advance of free agency nips any headaches in the bud.

The 49rs praised the impact Garoppolo had on their team after trading for him. San Francisco ended the season on a five-game winning streak, beating three playoff teams in that stretch. They were also 1-10 at the time.

Cousins, meanwhile, now has another contract which he can use as leverage to make him the highest-paid player in the NFL history.

Garoppolo will make an average of $27.5 million per year, which tops Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s salary of $27 million.

Stafford, however, earned more in total guarantees. But “total guarantees” are usually only fully guaranteed for injury. It is not clear, yet, how much of Garoppolo’s $74 million is fully guaranteed.

Cousins will have a number of suitors when he hits the market on March 14, barring a last-minute franchise tag from the Redskins. The New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns are among the QB-needy teams this offseason.

Cousins has said that guarantees will be an important part of his next contract. He has also said that being in a place where he can win will be his priority.

Cousins is in this position after years of failed negotiations with the Redskins. After being handed the franchise tag for two straight years, Cousins told the Redskins he would wait until March before discussing any long-term deal with them.

The Redskins moved on, trading cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for quarterback Alex Smith. Washington also gave Smith a four-year, $94 million ($70 million guaranteed).

Cousins said he understood the Redskins’ decision, but was looking forward to being a free agent. He is considered the top quarterback available this offseason. 

Until then, Cousins now has another deal to study.


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