Kirk Cousins began his first official day of work in the Vikings’ new practice facility in Eagan on Monday, when players were allowed to join the team for offseason workouts.
Cousins has a $500,000 bonus in his contract tied to his participation in those workouts; he can make a lot more money based on what he does at the end of the season.
The quarterback, who became the NFL’s highest-paid player after signing a three-year, $84 million contract in March, can earn up to another $6 million in incentives through the life of that deal. According to NFL Players Association salary data, Cousins will only maximize the full value of those incentives if he does something that no quarterback has ever done.
He can earn $2 million in each of the next three seasons if he leads the Vikings to a Super Bowl championship, wins Super Bowl MVP honors and helps the team finish in the top eight in the league in scoring offense. In other words, if the Vikings become the first team in NFL history to win three straight Super Bowl titles, and Cousins wins MVP honors in each of those games while directing one of the league’s best offenses on the way there, he’ll make his full $6 million.
Cousins’ incentives are all tied to the team’s performance, starting with $500,000 for a Super Bowl victory. If the Vikings win the Super Bowl and are ranked in the top five in the league in offense in 2018 or 2019, Cousins will get an extra $1 million; he’ll pocket an extra $1.5 million in 2018 or 2019 if the Vikings win the Super Bowl while ranking in the top three in offense. In 2020, the only incentives available to Cousins are $500,000 for a Super Bowl title and the $2 million incentive for a Lombardi Trophy, a Cousins Super Bowl MVP and a top-8 offense.
The Vikings also cannot trade Cousins without his prior written consent, or place a transition tag on him after the 2020 season. They can, however, use the franchise tag; as Cousins has said, he’d likely make more than $40 million in that scenario.
The lucrative contract also comes with insurance for Minnesota; the Vikings can purchase up to $40 million of coverage for Cousins’ deal in the event of injury the next three years. They can buy up to $13 million each of the next two seasons and $14 million in 2020.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson’s deal, which is worth $8 million this season, includes $3 million in incentives based primarily on his individual performance. Richardson can earn $666,667 for six sacks this season, $1,333,333 for eight sacks and $2 million for 10 sacks. He’d also make $500,000 if he is named to the Pro Bowl as a starter or backup, and $1 million if he is a first-team All-Pro.