Why Kirk Cousins turned down $90 million from the Jets to join the Vikings

Quarterback Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings stands on the sideline with teammates during the singing of the National Anthem on August 11, 2018 in Denver, Colorado.
Dustin Bradford | Getty Images

In March 2018, NFL quarterback Kirk Cousins signed a three-year, $84 million guaranteed contract with the Minnesota Vikings. At the time, Cousins' deal made him the highest-paid player in NFL history.

A video posted on the Vikings' website shares footage of the 30-year-old athlete earlier this year during his decision-making process. It reveals that before signing with Minnesota, he had a $90 million guaranteed offer from the New York Jets.

In the video, Cousins gets off the phone and tells his wife, Julie, that his agent Mike McCartney had called to tell him the Jets were offering a "$30 [million], fully-guaranteed three-year deal." He tells her that with such a strong deal on the table, he plans to urge McCartney to try to elicit a competitive offer from the Vikings.

Luckily for Cousins, that's exactly what happened. Just hours after receiving an offer from the Jets, the Vikings increased their offer to $28 million guaranteed per year — a total of $84 million over three years.

"As much as the overall dollars are important in a contract," says Cousins, "I think in my situation, structure is as important, if not more important."

Kirk Cousins of the Washington Redskins
Scott Cunningham | Getty Images

In addition to aiming for a contract with guaranteed money, Cousins explains how important a team's leadership is to him.

Before negotiating, Cousins researched the coaching staffs of different teams throughout the NFL, which ultimately helped him to decide on Minnesota as the best option for him. He says his next step was to get on the phone and call around to see what other people had to say about the coaches he'd researched.

"You know, you like to see the guys that people have worked with because you know that is going to affect their leadership style," says Cousins. "For me, it's important to not only be with a guy who I think can help us win, but to be with a guy who I think can help us win and make it enjoyable."

Cousins, who was a fourth round pick in the 2012 NFL draft, played the first six seasons of his professional career with the Washington Redskins. Despite earning $23.9 million in his last season with the team, the star quarterback admits to still living on a strict budget.

He tells GQ that he and his wife drive a dented GMC Savana van that he purchased from his grandmother in 2014 for $5,000. He also says that during the summer months, he and his wife live in his parents' basement. Then, for the first few months of the year, he says they spend time living in Georgia with his in-laws.

In a 2016 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Cousins explained his frugal habits by saying, "you don't know how long you're going to play, you've got to save every dollar even though you are making a good salary."

This is an updated version of a story that appeared previously.

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

Don't miss: NFL star Kirk Cousins earns $24 million a year and spends summers in his parents' basement

This NFL starting quarterback drives a dented van he bought from his grandma for $5,000
This NFL starting quarterback drives a dented van he bought from his grandma for $5,000