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

Jackson already names Taylor starting QB

If the Cleveland Browns draft a quarterback with one of the two picks they have in the top four of the upcoming NFL Draft, the rookie will not be competing for a starting job this summer.

The Broncos might have come closest by bringing on Case Keenum, but his two-year deal hardly removes the position from consideration for GM John Elway.?The Browns (traded for Tyrod Taylor), Jets (brought back Josh McCown and added Teddy Bridgewater), Bills (signed AJ McCarron)?and Cardinals (signed Sam Bradford) all still look to be squarely in the hunt for a quarterback.

After dispatching Taylor and moving up to the No. 12 slot in the first round via a trade, the Bills have given every signal they’re clearing a path to the top of the draft for a quarterback, with McCarron serving as a stopgap solution at best. With another first-round pick (No. 22) and five of the first 65 selections, Buffalo has the?combination of motivation and ammo?to make a big move and jump the likes of the Browns, Broncos and Jets for the passer of its choice. New York, meanwhile, might be able to scrape by with McCown and Bridgewater on one-year deals, but a move into the top three would help ensure a shot at a quarterback of the team’s liking.

Hidalgo says he’s been training Kaep every single day since January 2017 — adding, “We haven’t stopped throwing, training and preparing.”

“To say he’s dedicated is an understatement… Even when we’re traveling we put in that work.”

The Bengals obliged in an effort to make an “all in” type of effort on offense in 2018. And no other team would know better than the Bengals what Eifert’s injury history is, how healthy he is now, and what he can be this season.?

“There have been guys that go through injury stretches that came out of it and other guys that constantly have it,” Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. “It’s not for?me to sit here and say he’s going to be hurt next year, or he’s not going to be hurt next year, I don’t know that. We’ll get the doctor’s?opinions, the ones that did work on him, and see what they have to say and how Tyler feels. Those will be all?components of what we do?going forward.”ravens_013

Jets offered Kirk Cousins $30 million per year

Appearing in recent weeks on PFT Live, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News predicted that the Jets would offer quarterback Kirk Cousins the most money, but that he would choose to sign with another team.

Ronald Gasser was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the shooting death of former NFL running back Joe McKnight, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney announced Thursday. Gasser, 56, was convicted of manslaughter in January after a jury found him guilty of shooting McKnight three times with a.40-caliber semi-automatic handgun on Dec. 1, 2016 in the Terrytown suburb of New Orleans. He originally was facing second-degree murder charges. Authorities say Gasser followed McKnight after he allegedly cut Gasser off in traffic.

Once McKnight stopped, he got out of his car and approached Gasser’s vehicle and Gasser shot him. He initially was detained but not formally arrested until four days later on Dec. 5, a delay that prompted protests in the parish. According to TMZ Sports, McKnight’s mother, Jennifer, gave a statement before the sentencing.

That day, you didn’t have to do that. That didn’t have to happen. It hurts. It’s going to hurt a long time, she said. MORE : Ronald Gasser convicted of manslaughter in shooting death of Joe McKnight Michelle Quick, the mother of McKnight’s 8-year-old son, also gave a victim’s statement at Gasser’s sentencing.

It will be my life’s mission to make sure my son, Jaiden, doesn’t grow up with hate for you, she said Not because you don’t deserve it, but because he should not have hate in his heart.

With an improved cornerback corps to go with the promising second-year safety tandem of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, Bowles is in the process of building an identity with a stingy Jets pass defense.

The NBA family mourns the loss of New Orleans Pelicans owner Tom Benson. Big-hearted and gracious, Tom topped off a distinguished business and sports career by acquiring the Pelicans in 2012. During his tenure, he hosted two highly-successful All-Star Games, rebranded the franchise and installed a first-class organization. He was a dear friend to me and so many others in the sports world, and the loss of his authentic and unique presence will leave an enormous void. We send our heartfelt condolences to Gayle, their family, the Pelicans and the Saints, and his countless friends.canucks_012

Nelson broke into the league in 2008 as a second-round pick of the Packers, but needed time to develop into one of the NFL’s most proficient deep threats.

He eclipsed the 1,200-yard mark in four seasons between 2011 and 2016 to help establish Green Bay as an offensive powerhouse. That earned him a four-year, $39 million contract extension in 2014 — a deal he ultimately couldn’t live up to as age and injury eroded his impact on the game.

Nelson has been an integral piece of the Packers’ offense since emerging as a starter in 2011. He headed up a receiving corps that included playmakers like Randall Cobb, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and Jermichael Finley as Green Bay stretched its postseason streak to eight seasons from 2009 to 2016. He even earned NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors after returning from a torn ACL to lead the league with 14 touchdown catches in 2016.

But Nelson’s 2017 was a marked decline from his typically lofty standards. Despite playing in 15 games, he managed just 53 receptions and 483 yards. His 9.1 yards per catch were the lowest of his career by a significant margin. The deep threat who had burned defenses in the past was reduced to a role as a possession receiver.

The Packers made an unofficial torch passing by signing Davante Adams to a four-year, $58 million extension back in December. That made Nelson’s $12.5 million cap hit for 2018 untenable — especially given his recent production. Cutting Nelson, despite his decade of loyal service, saves the franchise more than $10 million in cap room.

As a result, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Minnesota had to let one or two of those difference-makers leave in free agency.

Given that the Vikings had no quarterbacks on the roster and should be locking in above-average play at the game’s most important position for years to come, though, it’s a trade-off general manager Rick Spielman simply had to make.

OLB Devon Kennard, Lions Grade: C It was a bit of a surprise to see Kennard come off the board before free agency began — at a meaningful price — but the former Giants linebacker agreed to a three-year, $18.8 million deal to join the Lions.

It’s possible that Detroit sees more projection in Kennard than the rest of the league, and this might end up as a one-year deal after we see the salary structure, but it’s difficult to believe that there was a huge market for the 26-year-old at the rate of more than $6 million per season.

Given the emphasis the Patriots put on versatility, it should be no surprise that a team run by former New Englanders Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn would want a player who at least has the range in his skill set Kennard exhibited during stretches with the Giants.packers_109

Baker Mayfield relishing opportunity to prove himself again this time, in NFL

With the exception of the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, Mayfield has prepared for his impending NFL career mostly in California. He has changed that up a bit, with his home training base in Norman for the next two weeks. After that, he’ll spend another week training back in California before beginning the process of visiting NFL teams.

“I still haven’t played a down in the NFL, and I want to be the greatest ever to play the game. So for me, it’s starting back over and I love that.”

Minnesota’s new quarterback might have attempted to set a new precedent for top-tier players by planning to sign a three-year, $84 million deal that is fully guaranteed, the first top-tier, multiyear contract to be fully guaranteed in recent memory.

If the league ends up moving to a structure in which players get smaller, more lucrative deals, we’ll look back on Cousins as a trailblazer.

It’s certainly a surprise given that Cousins’ issue in Washington was that the organization never wanted to commit to him on a long-term contract.

“Bottom line, the players are upset. No, they are outraged,” Van Wagenen wrote. “Players in the midst of long-term contracts are as frustrated as those still seeking employment. Their voices are getting louder and they are uniting in a way not seen since 1994.”

That year, of course, represents the last work stoppage in MLB, a players strike prompted by owners’ attempt to introduce a salary cap into the game. The strike began Aug. 12, 1994, and lasted until late in spring training the following year, wiping out the 1994 World Series.

While MLB and its players have enjoyed unprecedented prosperity in recent decades, thanks mostly to an explosion in media rights fees, some teams’ reluctance or refusal to spend on free agents this offseason has led to a market glut as the days count down toward spring training — which should only serve to reduce the leverage of the dozens of players without a team, unless the players take some sort of collective action to fight back.

That seems to be what Van Wagenen is suggesting might happen. The agent, who has represented the likes of Robinson Cano, Ryan Braun, Ryan Zimmerman and Yoenis Cespedes, says the players may be spoiling for a showdown.packers_134

The 49ers met with Sherman on Saturday and wanted to make sure he is healing well from a torn Achilles in his right foot and a bone spur in his left.

He said he’d be forever grateful to former coach Mike Shanahan for drafting him, three rounds after they selected quarterback Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick.

“At the time many people saw his selection as foolish,” Cousins said. “Time proved otherwise and taught me that there are no guarantees in this business — if you work hard and learn from your mistakes, good things can happen. For the first time in 11 years I will participate in choosing where I play. Having said this, I would not trade the past decade for anything.”

“A lot of young athletes were inspired by the level of work it takes to get to a certain point in your career. I think that’s been a great payoff for me. It was hard work; we spent a lot of time last offseason and this season, a little bit of time. But to me, it turned into a great series.”

Brady, who has said he hopes to play to his mid-40s, explained on “Good Morning America” how he is transitioning from losing Super Bowl LII to the 2018 season, which will be his 19th in the NFL.

On Friday, Sherman told Anderson that he will be back running on the treadmill next week.

Sherman and the 49ers both expect that he will be ready for training camp, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who first reported the agreement between the sides.

Keenum helped power the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game last season as Minnesota went 11-3 in his regular-season starts in place of an injured Sam Bradford.

Keenum finished the season with 3,547 yards passing to go with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Keenum threw for 318 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings’ divisional-round win over the New Orleans Saints, with his improbable heave to Stefon Diggs in the closing seconds clinching the win.buccaneers_083

MLB trade news: Pirates acquire Corey Dickerson from Rays

The Pirates acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson on Thursday from the Rays.

Dickerson had been designated for assignment by Tampa Bay earlier this month despite hitting 27 home runs with 62 RBIs last season. Dickerson also had a solid .282/.325/.490 slash line, which helped him become a 2017 AL All-Star.

This team is better than the Rays or Marlins by themselves. But would it win more than, say, 84 games? Probably not.

Unfortunately for baseball fans in Florida, the Marays aren’t coming to a ballpark near you. They’ll have to suffer through yet another season of incompetence and penny-pinching, and probably at least another year of it after that. There is nothing in the water in Florida that inspires bad baseball. There is nothing in the air, and nothing in the food, that causes the play and conduct of the teams to be so thoroughly uninspiring outside of the years 1997, 2003 and 2008. The state itself is not burdened with a curse that forces those who own the Rays and Marlins to be misers.

It’s the doing of the misers themselves, as well as the unholy mess that is Tropicana Field (although there’s plenty to be said for the meager percentage of revenue that the Rays have actually invested in their rosters). Until that changes, the Rays and Marlins will be stuck in this cycle. Until that changes, we’ll just have to dream of the Marays.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado and Cubs backstop Willson Contreras say they don’t care.

“If I have to go [out there] again and pay the price for my team I will,” Contreras told reporters Tuesday, via ESPN. “What about a tight game or an extra-inning game and you have to go out there? They cannot say anything about that. That’s my team. If they are going to fine me for mound visit No. 7, I’ll pay the price.”

Maldonado, a 2017 Gold Glove Award winner who is entering his second season with the Angels after six years in Milwaukee, echoed that sentiment.

Let’s not get it twisted: The Mets benefited from a historically slow free-agent market. Mets fans should be celebrating their team signing the likes of Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta, being that they’re a big-market team. But until the Mets spend, they are what they are, market or not.buccaneers_013

Red Sox finally announce J.D. Martinez signing

Some tricky language in the five-year, $110 million deal and a final physical held up the signing since it was first reported Feb. 19. Martinez arrived at Boston’s spring training facility last Wednesday, so the wait for an official announcement had Boston fans biting their fingernails hoping the exam came back clean.

That’s what Ohtani, now 23, wants to know, too. And that burning desire is part of what makes Ohtani’s arrival in North America so damn interesting. This Japanese superstar could have landed a contract north of $200 million if he had waited two years to come over as a full-fledged free agent — by MLB’s current CBA, all international players under the age of 25 are considered amateurs, which means they’re only eligible for that specific, very restricted, bonus pool available to teams — but he wants to measure himself against the best of the best right damn now.

So instead of waiting for a deal worth $200 million, he chose to play for the Angels for the $2.315 million signing bonus the club had left in their international pool. Think about that. The competitive spirit was so strong in this athlete that he essentially threw away a couple hundred million so he could test his skills against elite competition.

“It’s definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done,” Wilson said of putting on his No. 73 jersey before takings swings in the same group as big bats like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird.

“Ever since I was a young kid I always dreamed to be a Yankee,” he said. “I always watched them. My favorite player was Derek Jeter growing up, watching him, his professionalism and how he played.”

While Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Wilson won’t be play in any games, Wilson insists his spring training participation is not a stunt.

“If you really know me, baseball’s been part of my blood,” Wilson said. “It’s been a part of who I am and where I’ve come from and what I’ve done. When you see me make plays on the football field, a lot of that’s a direct correlation to baseball.”seahawks_126_1df2d9054941221e-180x180

Richard Sherman ‘s free-agency tour began with the San Francisco 49ers , and it won’t extend beyond the Bay Area.

The veteran cornerback has agreed to a three-year deal with the 49ers worth $39 million (including a $5 million signing bonus), NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The team confirmed the move Sunday.

Sherman was released by the Seattle Seahawks earlier in the week after the team decided it wanted to give the veteran an early start on free agency. The defensive back has been among the league’s best for the last five years, becoming a lockdown defender and face of Seattle’s Legion of Boom secondary. He’s been as excellent as he’s been topical, boisterous on the field (backed up by his play) and outspoken off it.

Once Santana and Hughes return, a Berrios-Santana-Odorizzi-Hughes-Gibson rotation in midseason should be enough to contend for the playoffs, aided by a bullpen greatly strengthened by general manager Thad Levine’s offseason moves.

Minnesota’s offense will try to build upon breakout seasons from several of its young players. In addition to second baseman Brian Dozier’s 34-homer season, third baseman Miguel Sano — still just 24 years old — hit a career-high 28 home runs with 77 RBIs in just 484 plate appearances, but the beginning of his season is in doubt with an MLB assault investigation looming.

With the Giants clipping Wing, his release should generate some buzz among teams searching for a punter in free agency.

Here are some other free agency moves we’ve been monitoring:

1. Former Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson , fresh off visits with the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints earlier this week, visited with the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. He’s scheduled to visit with the Washington Redskins next.

2. The Atlanta Falconsre-signed cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson to a one-year contract extension. Selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft , Wreh-Wilson has 91 combined tackles, 15 passes defense and an interception.

3. Defensive end Kerry Hyder , whose 2017 season was wiped out by a torn Achilles tendon in the preseason, has re-signed with the Detroit Lions , the team announced Saturday. Hyder was slated to become a exclusive rights free agent. Terms of the deal were not announced. In other Lions news, the team also re-signed long snapper Don Muhlbach .seahawks_096_4cb8a7c0acb4d396-180x180

Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Lonzo Ball highlight NBA Rising Stars rosters

Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Lonzo Ball headline the NBA Rising Stars rosters announced Wednesday night.

The game will feature the same format as the previous three years with 10 of the league’s best rookies or second-year players from the U.S. taking on 10 from across the globe. The Sixers and Lakers each have three selections, the most for any team.

With the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Cam Fowler at 100 percent, the Ducks have hit their stride in the season’s homestretch.

Goalie John Gibson (25-15-6, 2.46, .927) posted his second shutout Tuesday night and did yeoman’s work keeping the team competitive early in the season when it was short-handed.

“We know if we don’t win now, our season is over,” Gibson said of Anaheim’s urgency. “There is definitely more pressure, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard.”

This starts a crucial back-to-back set for the Ducks, who play in Dallas on Friday night against an equally desperate foe.

They played together as teammates on the Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA championship team, and Irving told reporters he will always be connected to James and Love.

“I think you’ve heard it if you’ve talked to championship winners before, but when you’re on a championship team, it’s just a bond that can’t be broken forever,” Irving said, per ESPN. “Just going through that, the way we created history — we’re the only team in history to come back from 3-1 (in the NBA Finals). And that’s something that will be etched in NBA history for life.

“And that’s always a connection, something that we can always reminisce about no matter what. It’s an incredible bond that we built as a team, individually being tested at the highest level, and doing something that you can remember for the rest of your life and tell your kids about.”lions_018