Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Kirk Cousins: Which quarterback is more valuable?

On Thursday, Jimmy Garoppolo agreed to a whopping five-year, $137.5 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers. That's the largest deal in NFL history on a per-year basis, with a $27.5 million annual average (topping Matthew Stafford's $27 million figure).

So, no, Garoppolo will not be hitting free agency this offseason. One quarterback who will: Kirk Cousins. Given that he has a longer track record and could induce a bidding war on the open market, Cousins might end up surpassing Jimmy G's contract record in March. With that in mind ...

Is Cousins more valuable than Garoppolo?

I'd rather bet on Garoppolo's future than Cousins' past
No, Kirk Cousins is not more valuable. Jimmy Garoppolo is obviously less experienced, but knowing what I know about Jimmy G -- from what I've seen personally -- I'd rather pay for the 26-year-old's sky-high upside than Cousins' track record.

Garoppolo is really smart and very strong. The big-handed QB can spin the ball and is extremely accurate. Back in 2014, I invited Garoppolo to come to the draft, because I thought he was a borderline first-round pick. (The Patriots, of course, ended up snagging him in Round 2.)

None of this is to say Cousins isn't a good player -- he is. I expect him to fetch a pretty penny on the open market, where his financial fortunes will be aided by the fact that teams will bid against each other. And the fact is, in this day and age, if your quarterback is successful, you didn't overpay for him. But ultimately, Garoppolo is a better and more skilled quarterback.
Cousins is nice, but Jimmy G has the makeup to succeed in ANY system
Kirk Cousins is a good player, but he has a lower ceiling than Jimmy G. Cousins has the ability to take a team to the next level, but only if he's in the right system. Jimmy can do that in any system, giving him more value than Cousins.
No doubt about it: Cousins has proven his immense worth over multiple seasons
Without question, Kirk Cousins is more valuable than Jimmy Garoppolo. Cousins has proven his value to the Redskins -- and the rest of the league -- over the course of his entire career. We're not talking about a guy who suddenly took the league by storm in late 2017 like Jimmy G; Cousins has started 57 games over six seasons and played at a high level as a full-time starter over the past three.

Although his numbers were slightly down last season, his offensive line and RB1 were banged up, while his wide receivers significantly underperformed. The Terrelle Pryor signing was a flop, Jamison Crowder failed to light it up, and Jordan Reed is always hurt. And yet, Cousins kept the offense afloat. As far as Chris Thompson saying Cousins sent "mixed messages" to the Redskins, you can point to an organization that couldn't make a decision about its quarterback (see: the franchise-tag dance over the last two offseasons). Who could blame Cousins if he was conflicted about staying after the lack of commitment?

The guy will deserve what he gets in the open market, and it will probably be $30M a season or more.
Garoppolo took over a hopeless 1-10 team and instantly rolled off five straight wins
Jimmy Garoppolo is more valuable because we've seen the enormous impact he can make on a squad. He inherited a 1-10 49ers team and went undefeated as a starter with the same cast of characters, which speaks volumes about the impact he has. Although he's only played six games (five starts) in San Francisco, he's had a lot of success in multiple systems. That shows me Garoppolo is a transcendent player who will continue to be a star as the 49ers bolster the roster around him.
Cousins will end up with a richer deal, but Garoppolo's truly the more valuable player
Kirk Cousins will pass Jimmy Garoppolo's contract number in just over a month when he hits the open market. However, the freshly paid 49ers quarterback is the more valuable player. That's not to take away from what Cousins has accomplished or what he'll bring to his new team, but Garoppolo looked like a transformative figure for San Francisco last year. As soon as Jimmy G hit the field, he stocked the cupboard for a team that looked fresh out of hope for most of the 2017 season. Garoppolo absolutely carved up teams with an efficient quick-passing game, posting a 112.7 passer rating on short passes (fewer than 10 air yards). He demonstrated the most crucial ability of a high-end quarterback: elevating your supporting cast on the way to wins.

If I ran a team and the two hit the open market at the same time, I'd prioritize chasing and paying Garoppolo over Cousins.
Garoppolo's better in a number of crucial areas
I am ignoring what Jimmy Garoppolo was paid in this decision. He was paid based on the franchise-tag ramifications if the Niners had not come to a long-term deal. Kirk Cousins will be paid by what the open market dictates.

That said, I would personally take Garoppolo over Cousins. I liked him better coming out of college, and Jimmy G has really excelled in his brief time in San Francisco. Cousins certainly has done well for a longer period of time -- and this past year was his most impressive. I still think Garoppolo is better because he has a quicker release, is more mobile and is a better overall decision maker.
Jimmy G can do more with less
Kirk Cousins is talented and has been surrounded by some nice weapons ( Jordan Reed, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, among others), yet he has a losing regular-season record as a starter (26-30-1). Although Jimmy Garoppolo's sample size is small (seven NFL starts), it's clear that he's capable of winning with less talent than Cousins has had at his disposal. Going 5-0 with a team that was 1-10 when he took the reins is an indication of what could be.

The fact that Garoppolo did more with less proves he's more valuable.