Money

Kirk Cousins could become the highest-paid player in the NFL—here's why he still drives a dented van

Quarterback Kirk Cousins could soon become the highest-paid player in the NFL.

While no final decisions have been made, he will likely sign a three-year, fully guaranteed $84 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings, ESPN reports. The $28 million per year Cousins would earn is slightly more than Jimmy Garoppolo's $27.5 million per year.

Cousins, who earned $23.9 million last season, is easily already a multimillionaire, but you wouldn't guess it based on what he drives: a dented GMC Savana passenger van with more than 100,000 miles on it. He and his wife bought it from his grandma for $5,000 in 2014.

"It's better to buy appreciating assets than depreciating," Cousins told Kevin Clark of The Wall Street Journal in 2016. "No yachts, no sports cars."

The starting quarterback makes a good point. The moment you drive a new car off the lot, its value depreciates by about 20 percent.

Cousins' frugal habits also include living in his parents' basement during the summer.

"For a good portion of the off-season, the eminently practical Cousins holes up beneath the floorboards of his teenage home in Holland, Michigan. ... He shares the space with his wife, Julie," GQ reported in 2017.

The couple move to a warmer climate during the first few months of the year: the basement of Julie's parents' home in Georgia. "It works well," Cousins told GQ. "We don't pay rent."

They do plan on eventually moving into their own place. After waiting to make sure they were in a good financial position to invest in real estate, Cousins and his wife bought a lakefront property on which they're building a four-bedroom home.

At the end of the day, "you don't know how long you're going to play," Cousins told the WSJ. "You've got to save every dollar even though you are making a good salary. You never know what's going to happen so I try to put as much money away as I can."

Other players in the league share Cousins' philosophy.

"Even after you've made it to the NFL and you're 'living the dream,' it can all be gone in a split second," says wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who signed $3.6 million rookie contract when he was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2012. "The game, the paycheck, the spotlight — just like that, you could lose everything."

Broyles is planning for the worst and working to secure his future. He and his wife live on a modest $60,000 a year, preferring to stash the rest of his salary, which has been as high as $570,000 a year, in investments and retirement savings accounts.

"The goal was to play 10 years in the NFL," Broyles writes on The Players' Tribune. "But financially, I planned like I wouldn't make it past the next 10 minutes."

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This is an update of a previously published story.