Kirk Cousins is looking to turn his reputation around, and after an incredible playoff win for the Minnesota Vikings against Drew Brees and the Saints in New Orleans, he may be able to do it.
Cousins' career has often been defined by what he has been unable to do. He has struggled to win big games against good teams, and is an astonishing 0-9 in Monday Night Football games. Lost in the shuffle of all this is that Cousins is a very capable quarterback, a fourth-round draft pick who came into his own and became the first player in NFL history to get a fully guaranteed contract.
And if the phrase "fully guaranteed contract" didn't tip you off, Cousins has made quite a fortune in his unusual NFL career, with a year to go on his contract. As he prepares to play San Francisco in the divisional round of the playoffs, how much is Cousins worth?
Kirk Cousins' Net Worth
Kirk Cousins is worth approximately $50 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. And according to Spotrac, through the 2019 season Cousins has made over $100.6 million in cash earnings throughout his career.
With just one year left on his contract, which will expire when he is 32 years old, Cousins likely has another lucrative contract in his future. And how he performs the rest of these playoffs could determine not only how lucrative it is, but whether or not it is with the Vikings.
Kirk Cousins' Career
Before his NFL career, Cousins worked his way up to starting quarterback in college at Michigan State. In 2009, his redshirt sophomore year with the Spartans, he won the starting quarterback job. Michigan State went just 6-7 this year but made the Alamo Bowl, where they fell to Texas Tech 41-31. Cousins threw a touchdown but also threw two interceptions.
2010 was a much better year for both Cousins and Michigan State, as he threw 20 touchdowns and the team won its first eight games, ultimately winning 11 games and getting the chance to face Alabama in the Capital One Bowl. But they lost again, 49-7. Cousins failed to throw a touchdown for just the second game all season, and threw one interception.
Cousins returned for his senior year and led the Spartans to another great season, this time throwing 25 touchdowns. The team once again made a bowl game, facing Georgia in the Outback Bowl. Though he struggled at times, throwing three interceptions, Cousins ended his college career with a victory, winning the Outback Bowl 33-30 in overtime.
Kirk Cousins in Washington
Cousins was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft by Washington, their second quarterback of the draft as they had taken Baylor's Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick.
Cousins spent his rookie year backing up Griffin, only coming in when the starter was injured. His first start came in week 15 of this season, when he threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-20 win over the Cleveland Browns. This Washington team defied expectations and won the NFC East. Cousins again had to come in when Griffin suffered an injury, going just 3 of 10 as he fell to fellow rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.
Washington collapsed in Cousins' sophomore year, going from NFC East winners to 3-13 and in last place. Cousins was once again backing up Griffin, but was given the chance to start the final three games as head coach Mike Shanahan elected to bench Griffin to keep him from getting injured. Washington lost all three games, though Cousins showed promise; in his first start against Matt Ryan and the Falcons, Cousins threw for 381 yards and three touchdowns (along with two interceptions).
2014 saw Cousins again as the back-up, and again taking the reins when Griffin got injured. He appeared in six games in the middle of the season, starting five of them. This stretch of games saw some highs for Cousins (427 passing yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles) but also some devastating lows (a 4-interception game in a blowout loss against the Eli Manning-led Giants).
One injury too many for Griffin led to him being benched as the starter prior to the 2015 season, and for the first time in his NFL career Cousins was given the chance to be the top quarterback on the depth chart. Cousins would end up starting all 16 games for Washington. Through 12 of those games Cousins had 17 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, and the team was just 5-7. But in the final four games, he combined to throw 12 touchdowns against just one interception as the team won all four, including a decisive week 17 game against the Cowboys to win the NFC East. Washington hosted Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Cousins' first playoff start, but the Packers came back to win 35-18.
As a fourth-round draft pick, Cousins' rookie contract expired after four seasons. Though he led the team to the playoffs, Washington was unsure of handing Cousins a large extension after just one season, and so they placed the franchise tag on him, a one-year deal worth nearly $20 million.
Cousins played well on his first franchise tag, throwing 25 touchdown passes and passing for nearly 5,000 yards. But the team as a whole struggled, and they failed to win a must-win week 17 game against the Giants, finishing outside the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.
Still reticent to extend Cousins long-term, Washington franchised him for the second straight year. It was the first time in NFL history a team had done this to a quarterback, and saw Cousins' salary increase to nearly $24 million. For the second consecutive season, Cousins performed well. He threw for over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns, but the team once again underperformed, and a 7-9 record again kept them out of the playoffs.
Kirk Cousins in Minnesota
Washington still had no interest in giving Kirk Cousins a multi-year contract, choosing to instead trade for (and subsequently extend) Alex Smith. But there was a market for Cousins, and it resulted in a historic contract. After the 2017 season, Cousins signed with the Minnesota Vikings for a three-year, $84 million contract — all of it guaranteed. It was the first time in the history of NFL free agency that a free agent was given a fully guaranteed contract.
Expectations were high for the 2018 Vikings, as they were a team that had made the NFC championship game the year prior, maintained much of its core and upgraded its quarterback. But the team instead proved inconsistent. The Cousins-led offense sputtered in a massive upset loss against the Bills in week three, and then Cousins threw for 422 yards and three touchdowns against the Rams in eeek four — only to lose anyway. Cousins' stats for the season as a whole looked solid enough — 4,298 passing yards, 30 touchdowns to 10 interceptions - but he and the team never found a consistent footing, and for the second time in his career Cousins failed to make the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.
The 2019 season started inconsistently for Cousins and the Vikings as well. After an embarrassing 16-6 loss to the Bears in week four, analysts and Vikings players alike were publicly questioning whether Cousins would ever be able to take the next step in his career.
After this, though, the team took off and Cousins began an incredible hot streak. The team won four games in a row, including two consecutive games where Cousins had four touchdown passes. The team started 2-2 but finished 10-6, thanks to significantly improved play from Cousins (his six interceptions were the lowest since his rookie season when he appeared in just three games) and a breakout season from running back Dalvin Cook. This helped them finish the season as the No. 6 seed in the NFC.
Cousins got the chance to start a playoff game for the second time in his career, this time against a heavily favored Saints team on the road. But Cousins played well, as did the Vikings defense. A last-second field goal by the Saints tied the game 20-20 and sent it to overtime. Minnesota got the ball first, and Cousins proceeded to make arguably the two most important throws of his career: a 43-yard pass to Adam Thielen that put the Vikings inside the red zone, and a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph that sealed the victory for the Vikings and his first ever playoff victory.
Facing a stingy 49ers defense in the next round, Cousins and the Vikings did not fare as well. Cousins was 21-29, but for just 172 yards with a touchdown and interception each. The Vikings fell 27-10.
Kirk Cousins' Contract: How Much Does He Make?
Cousins is still in his fully guaranteed (and recently extended) $84 million contract with Minnesota. At the time of signing, the average annual value of $28 million was an NFL record, one that has since been surpassed by other quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson.
Cousins made $28 million in cash earnings in the 2019 season, according to Spotrac,and will make $30 million in 2020. That was to be the final season of his contract, but after his especially impressive 2019 season the Vikings decided to keep Cousins around for a little longer, signing him to a two-year extension worth $66 million, effectively now having him on a 3-year deal worth $96 million through 2022. That would put his career cash earnings in the NFL at $196.64 million.
It pays to get a fully guaranteed contract; in just two seasons Cousins has made $54 million with the Vikings. That's more than he made in all six seasons he spent in Washington.
Kirk Cousins' Endorsements
As one of the more recognizable stars in the NFL, Kirk Cousins has also made plenty of money via endorsements and commercials. According to Forbes, Cousins has made $1.5 million from endorsements over the past year.
Forbes lists Bose and Nike (NKE) among Cousins' biggest endorsements, and recently he has appeared in a string of commercials for midwest chain Pizza Ranch.