Mar 30

That’s how rare the sightings are of injury-free quarterbacks under the age of 30 who hit the market with no string attached a la a franchise tag.

Mind you, Minnesota’s version of the Pequod spent a fortune in bait to net Cousins. Guaranteeing 100 percent of a player’s salary (or awfully close depending on the contract’s final wording) is unchartered waters for any NFL team since the current free-agency system began in 1993.

Beyond the gamble on player performance, it’s especially risky considering football’s inherent injury rate. The Vikings are painfully aware of what could happen from seeing Bridgewater suffer a catastrophic knee injury in a noncontact practice during the 2016 preseason.

On the flip side, though, Hakeem Nicks suffered a Jones fracture after a breakout season in 2011 and never really returned to that level of form; after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at ages 22 and 23, Nicks was out of football by 27.

Likewise, Dez Bryant hasn’t looked the same since breaking his foot in 2015.

Watkins’ chances of turning back into the guy who looked like a budding superstar at the end of 2015 will depend on that foot, and while the upside is still theoretically there, he comes with an enormous amount of risk.

Teams employ doctors and have players take physicals for a reason, but the Chiefs are making an enormous bet by giving Watkins more money than Robinson, who has a less terrifying injury history and has been more productive than Watkins on a game-by-game basis.

While the Suh tale should be a cautionary one for other clubs entering free agency this offseason, it won’t be. An excess of cap space for most teams combined with limited talent on the market will ultimately lead to buyer’s remorse like with a Dolphins squad now saddled with $22 million in dead money.

At age 31, Suh is headed toward another large payday with more tempered expectations than when he arrived at Dolphins headquarters. Having collected $124.2 million in career earnings, Suh can choose his next team either based upon the top financial offer received or, if the two aren’t congruent, the best-perceived chance of winning a Super Bowl.

That’s something from which the Dolphins arguably are even further away than they were when Suh first arrived.

Green Bay needed the cap space, and Nelson was scheduled to have a cap hit of $10.218 million in 2018.

They saved all of that by releasing him.ravens_158

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