Falcons overpaying for Kirk Cousins makes Buccaneers re-signing Baker Mayfield look even better

The Buccaneers should feel even better about Baker Mayfield after the Falcons overpaid for Kirk Cousins.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Minnesota Vikings
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Minnesota Vikings / Adam Bettcher/GettyImages

It came a lot closer to the wire than fans would have liked, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers avoided a nightmare scenario where Baker Mayfield didn't have a deal when the legal tampering period opened.

Baker and the Bucs agreed to a three-year, $100 million contract on Sunday and it's a deal that has already aged fantastically. Less than 24 hours after the Bucs brought Baker back, the Atlanta Falcons threw a sack of cash at Kirk Cousins to lure him away from the Minnesota Vikings.

The bag was heavy, as Atlanta is giving Cousins a four-year deal worth $180 million, with $100 million of it fully guaranteed. It's an absolutely massive gamble and one that should make the Buccaneers feel even better about both getting a deal done with Baker ahead of time and the type of contract that was agreed to.

Kirk Cousins contract details should make Buccaneers feel even better about Baker Mayfield

Atlanta has an extremely talented offense on paper, with guys like Drake London, Kyle Pitts, and Bijan Robinson all capable of being elite players. Even with how bad things were with Arthur Smith last year, those guys managed to show enough flash that the inability to tap into it cost their head coach his job.

Cousins is being viewed as the missing piece who can tie everything together, especially with Zac Robinson bringing over a new offense from Los Angeles. There's familiarity built in since Robinson worked with Kevin O'Connell which gives Cousins some connective tissue.

That's all window dressing, though, as the Falcons paid a ton of money for a guy who has just a single playoff win to his name. It's not like Cousins hasn't had top weapons before, as he's coming from an offense that boasts Justin Jefferson as it's main target and had peak Dalvin Cook running out of the backfield.

Atlanta is objectively better, but the deal Cousins got is something the Buccaneers can justifiably laugh at while also feeling lucky they got something done with Baker on Sunday. The Falcons were reportedly interested in Baker, and if he was going to get offered what Cousins got then there's a decent chance the Bucs don't bring him back.

Baker is getting $100 million over the next three years with his deal maxing out at $115 million with incentives. Tampa Bay guaranteed $50 million of his deal, which is half of what Cousins is getting and a fraction of the total cost. Meanwhile, the Falcons are on the hook for $45 million AAV with Cousins, which is $11.7 million more than what the Bucs have Baker on the books for.

It's a deal that already looked good at the time and has quickly aged into being a bargain. The Bucs will still have cap flexibility to make moves and didn't have to pay their quarterback top dollar to get him to return.

That also speaks to how badly Baker wanted to come back. Things got a little stressful when contract negotiations seemed to be slowing down, but the two sides were able to work out deal that is both team-friendly and pays out well.

Had Baker hit the open market there's likely no chance he comes back to the Bucs on the deal he got, assuming he came back at all. Jason Licht masterfully read the tea leaves on where the quarterback market was headed and wisely got a deal done early, and it's already looking like one of the best moves of the offseason.

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