It would seem to be important to know if Nate Clements will re-negotiate his contract, BEFORE the FA signing window opens. When that window opens, there will be great pressure to move quickly in filling critical needs. And if Clements is not coming back to the Niners, then a quality FA signing for the CB position would appear to be a necessity. Some might even believe that such a signing is critical, even with Clements still on-board.
I like Clements aggressiveness, always have. His run support from the CB position reminds me of Ronnie Lott. But, Nate can't stay with NFL WR's on a sustained man-on-man coverage basis. He can still successfully jam WR within 5 yards of the LOS, and be effective in zone coverage, so long as he stays disciplined and if the team improves its pass rush capability. Do his remaining capabilities have value in the Fangio system of defense? My guess is yes. But he needs to be used differently than in the Manusky scheme of the last few seasons. Count me among those, who could imagine Clements being very effective at FS.
But, apparently, there will be no move to FS. Clements is a proud athlete, who still sees himself as a competitive CB. Will some other club see things the same way, and make overtures to Nate? If so, will Nate be inclined to re-negotiate with the Niners? Or will be prefer at outright release, so that he can negotiate his own deal elsewhere? I doubt that he has any trade value under his current contract terms.
Is contract re-negotiation off-limits during the lock-out? Probably so. Still, the Niners need to develop a sense of which way this will go with Nate. Under his current contract, without re-negotiation, he will surely be cut by the Niners. And even with the 2011 draft class now identified, it seems clear that additional, veteran CB help is needed, if Clements leaves. Brown has not demonstrated starter skills, James is well past his prime, Adams may not come back from his serious season-ending injury, Brock is still an unknown, and the rookies won't be ready to start right away.
So, what's up with Nate's situation?
How hard and fast does the club move in the competition for Namdi, Marshall, or others who might fit the bill?