The NFL routinely leaves competent veteran players out of work and goes with less experienced, cheaper talent. The NFL also advertises providing generous multi-year contracts to players aged 30 or so, then forces many to take a large pay cut while still productive a couple of years later.

Club officials and the frenzied fans who support owners over players risking all in the most brutal game in big-time sports cite salary-cap limitations as the reason for either firing or stealing money from veterans.

This is why Kirk Cousins is my current hero among NFL players, because he used a two-team bidding contest for a 100 percent guaranteed $84 million contract from the Vikings. And that’s the No. 1 thing the NFL Players Association should be focused on in the next negotiation: guaranteed contracts.

It’s amazing that Vikings fans applaud and the football media doesn’t flinch when millions are stolen from a contract signed by Chad Greenway, late in his exceptional career built on collisions.

It’s also amazing the manner in which the baseball media — nationally, at least — is accepting the spiel of agents that the game is in crisis because of the failure of numerous veteran free agents to land jobs.

The NFL is the richest sports league in American history, and yet has a free development system provided by colleges. Baseball teams spend millions scouting and signing players in several countries, then spend more than $15 million annually developing those players in the minors.

The incredible research that now goes with baseball development is clarifying for ballclubs that, in this post-steroids era, there’s a strong likelihood a player in his early 30s has the best years behind him.

Dallas Keuchel is 31 and a soft-tosser. Craig Kimbrel soon turns 31 and with thousands of fastballs unleashed by that powerful arm. Keuchel could be making $17.9 million for one year if he accepted the Astros’ qualifying offer. There’s $50 million out there for Kimbrel.

A team not paying a 31-year-old pitcher as much as he wants isn’t collusion. It’s the market. And I’m guessing the offers for Keuchel, Kimbrel, etc. would be more generous if ballclubs could renege after a couple of years, as the NFL does so proudly.

 

Read Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick.

PLUS THREE

Worth mentioning:

• This winter’s Northwestern men’s basketball team provides a reminder of ’Cats past—namely, a 39-259 Big Ten record from 1984-85 to 2000-01, including a 60-game road losing streak from February 1986 to February 1993.

• The Fort Myers Miracle has had two managers lead it to Florida State League titles: Doug Mientkiewicz in 2014 and Ramon Borrego in 2018.

• Fourth outfielder: Jake Cave (power) or LaMonte Wade (on-base guy)? Probably Cave, although the Twins have a dearth of on-base hitters.