Falcons sign QB Kirk Cousins away from Vikings with 4-year deal in free agency | CBC Sports

Kirk Cousins is leaving Minnesota for Atlanta, landing another big contract with a well-timed foray into free agency.

Cousins agreed Monday to a four-year deal with the Falcons, his agent Mike McCartney announced on social media. Atlanta had a glaring need at quarterback after cycling through Tyler Heinicke and Desmond Ridder last season, and Cousins’ wife, Julie, grew up in the metro area.

Working his way back from a torn Achilles tendon in his right foot that sidelined him because of an injury for the first time in his career, Cousins had a 103.8 passer rating in eight games for the Vikings last season that was still the third best in the league despite the lost time.

The epitome of a late bloomer, Cousins enjoyed largely the most effective performances of his career since the Vikings hired coach Kevin O’Connell in 2022.

They were going to need a succession plan regardless of how this negotiation played out, though, considering Cousins’ age and their commitment to a “competitive rebuild,” as general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has termed it several times.

The Vikings were serious in their desire to continue with Cousins, but given their cap situation and the recent improvement and outlook around them by their NFC North foes they had to have a limit about how much — and for how long — they could guarantee.

Cousins, for as much as he wanted to finish his career with Minnesota, he also made clear he wanted to be valued with a commitment beyond a token year.

“It’s not about the dollars, but what the dollars represent,” was how Cousins put it in an interview with reporters on Jan. 8.

Cousins has not only been the consummate overachiever on the field, from afterthought college recruit to fourth-round draft pick to currently 24th place on the NFL’s all-time list in career passing yards (39,471), but he has mastered the business side of the game with the guidance of McCartney.

Eagles add Barkley

The Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to contracts with former New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and former New York Jets defensive end Bryce Huff, two people familiar with the deals told The Associated Press on Monday.

Barkley is set to sign a three-year deal for $26 million guaranteed and $37.75 million overall, while Huff is getting a three-year deal for $51 million, according to the people who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because free agents can’t officially sign with new teams until Wednesday.

Barkley, who tweeted two eagle emojis on Monday, hit free agency after the Giants elected not to put a franchise tag on the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

The Giants used the tag last season and eventually worked out a one-year, $10.1 million US contract before the start of training camp. A franchise tag this year would have cost the team $12.2 million if Barkley accepted the offer.

Barkley, 27, played in 14 games last season, missing three because of a high ankle sprain. He ran for 962 yards and six touchdowns and had 41 catches, including four TDs.

Since joining the Giants, Barkley has run for 5,211 yards and 35 touchdowns. The Penn State product also has 288 receptions for 2,100 yards and 12 TDs.

Barkley missed most of the 2020 season after tearing his ACL in the second week of the season. He struggled in 2021 but regained his form the following year, rushing for 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns in helping the Giants get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

The 25-year old Huff spent the last four seasons with the New York Jets. Huff goes from undrafted to a big pay day after recording a career-best 10 sacks last season. He still needs to develop as a run defender to be more than a pass-rush specialist.

End of era in Tennessee

The Tennessee Titans are replacing four-time Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry with Tony Pollard.

Pollard and the Titans agreed Monday to a $24 million, three-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because free agents can’t officially sign with new teams until Wednesday when the NFL’s new league year begins.

The Titans drafted Tyjae Spears last season. Spears was the backup to Henry. The eight-year veteran, who turned 30 in January, is poised to hit free agency Wednesday for the first time in his career.

Pollard, 26, was a fourth-round pick by Dallas in 2019 out of Memphis. He has had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons with the Cowboys using the franchise tag on Pollard for the 2023 season.

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