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Kirk Cousins and Alex Smith's contracts side-by-side: Who did better?

From ESPN - March 21, 2018

The Minnesota Vikings are firmly in a Super Bowl window, with a talented roster they felt needed an upgrade in one area: quarterback. The Washington Redskins want to enter that same window, which meant they needed a quarterback who could afford them one key thing: cap room to build.

Those feelings are reflected in the contracts handed out to Kirk Cousins (Minnesota) and Alex Smith (Washington). It's hard to not compare their deals because the Redskins essentially replaced Cousins with Smith.

However, the Redskins never wanted to pay a certain amount for Cousins, knowing they needed more around him to make it work. Their comfort level ended at about $23 million per year -- or five million less per year than what the Vikings gave him. And once the tag was used in the 2016 offseason, Cousins was a long shot to sign a long-term deal.

Minnesota, though, was one game from the Super Bowl and has a deep core that should be together for the next several years. A quarterback -- even one ranked by some in the 10-15 range -- could make the difference. So the Vikings were willing to pay more than just about any other team, aside from the cap-rich and desperate-for-QB-help New York Jets.

Smith's contract is expensive up front in terms of cash flow and shows the staggering investment Washington has made in the position over a three-year period. However, it also puts the Redskins in a favorable cap spot at quarterback over the next few years -- provided Smith plays well of course.

At the end of this season, the Redskins will have spent $84 million over the past three seasons for their starting quarterback. That includes the $27 million signing bonus for Smith and his $13 million base salary this season. It also includes the $44 million in guaranteed money with two franchise tags on Cousins. They did not want to pay Cousins' three-year, $58.5 million in guaranteed money at the end of the 2015 season.

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