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Kirk Cousins agrees to four-year, $180M contract with Atlanta Falcons

Kirk Cousins' six-year run in Minneapolis is over.

The veteran quarterback has agreed to a four-year, $180 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons on Monday, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported.

Cousins' deal includes a $50 million signing bonus and $90 million guaranteed over the next two seasons with an additional $10 million guaranteed in 2026 for a whopping $100 million total in guarantees, per Pelissero.

Cousins' move to Atlanta was first announced by his agent, Mike McCartney.

Monday's news is equally shocking because he's departing Minnesota, where he'd made a comfortable home for he and his family with consistent play over the last six seasons, and because of the destination.

Most had expected Cousins, 35, to return to Minneapolis, primarily because the Vikings had just received a firsthand lesson in how difficult life in the NFL can be without a franchise quarterback following Cousins' season-ending Achilles injury. Instead of running it back with the known commodity, the Vikings allowed Cousins to test the open market, leading him to accept Atlanta's offer and pack up his family to move south.

"After significant and positive dialogue with Kirk and his representatives, we were unable to reach agreement on a contract that fits the short and long-term visions for both Kirk and the Minnesota Vikings," Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said in a statement on Monday. "Kirk holds a special place in Vikings history, and we appreciate his leadership and contributions to the team and the Minneapolis-St. Paul community over the past six seasons. We wish him, his wife, Julie, and their children all the best.

"Our approach heading into free agency always included layers of contingencies regarding the quarterback position. We are moving forward with plans that allow us to continue building a roster that can compete for a championship."

After struggling through two seasons of uneven play under center, Atlanta was expected to be an active player in the quarterback market this offseason. It was never realistic to believe the Falcons would give Desmond Ridder another go, especially after the since-departed coach Arthur Smith benched Ridder in favor of Taylor Heinicke on multiple occasions last season. Cousins seemed like an ideal fit, but remained a far-fetched pairing mainly because such an outcome would require Minnesota -- which handed Cousins the first-ever fully guaranteed contract in 2018 -- to allow Cousins to reach free agency.

Signs of a potential parting first appeared during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month, when after previously stating it was his intention to bring Cousins back for 2024, Adofo-Mensah was noncommittal regarding Cousins' future with the team.

"We have our interests. He has his," Adofo-Mensah said of Cousins on Feb. 27. "We'll get to the table to see if we can figure out a creative solution and kind of meet in the middle. That's what every contract negotiation is. And that's what it'll be with him."

The Vikings' main priority entering 2024 is to extend superstar receiver Justin Jefferson, and with $37.1 million available to work with this year, there's room to get a deal done. Negotiations with Cousins apparently didn't move close enough to a deal to prevent him from looking elsewhere, so when Atlanta made an offer, Cousins took it.

Cousins' career in Minnesota ends with two playoff appearances, three Pro Bowl selections, a 50-37-1 regular-season record as a starter and a 1-2 postseason record. He threw for 23,265 yards and posted a 171-55 TD-INT ratio along with a 101.2 passer rating in his time with the Vikings, routinely tuning out criticism that pegged him as nothing more than an average quarterback to lead the Vikings to relative success, even amid roster turnover at receiver (the Stefon Diggs trade, which led to the selection of Jefferson, and the departure of Adam Thielen) and a coaching change following the 2021 season.

Cousins' move south also eliminates a favorite trade partner from the Chicago Bears' anticipated efforts to move Justin Fields. The entire football world believed the Falcons would at least place a call on the Georgia native and former Ohio State star, but Atlanta deftly juked around the projections of protagonists, instead acquiring a proven veteran who will instantly stabilize the position.

Folks can spend hours wasting oxygen debating whether Cousins can win his team a Super Bowl. For Atlanta, all they were seeking was reliable production after years of instability. They've found it in Cousins, who will join an offense featuring an incredible athlete in tight end Kyle Pitts, rising receiver Drake London and uber-talented running back Bijan Robinson.

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