Expect 49ers to be Quiet in Free Agency, Active in the Draft

Feb 15, 2014 at 8:32 AM

Expect San Francisco to be frugal in Free Agency and active in the NFL Draft.

The salary cap today show the San Francisco 49ers with approximately $8M in spending money (this assumes a $128M 2014 salary cap). Here are three things I expect the San Francisco 49ers to do in the near future that will increase that cap space.

1. Cut Carlos Rogers-This will free up 6.6M in cap space

This will likely not happen until SF is able to resign Eric Wright for at least a 2 year deal.

2. Cut Jonathan Baldwin-This will free up 1.4M in cap space

3. Extend Frank Gore's Contract-This will free up as much as $3M in cap space

With these transactions, SF will have approximately $16M of cap space. Knowing that last year the top 8 draft picks resulted in a $4.6M salary cap hit, it is likely SF will spend close to $6M on draft salaries in 2014. When it's all said and done SF will have $10M to spend on Free Agents, which is barely enough to sign Anquan Boldin to a 2 year deal, so don't expect SF to be active in Free Agency.

There has been a lot of speculation on some key players SF will NOT be able to keep in future years, after all there's a long list of key players currently NOT signed beyond the 2014 season. See below:

Colin Kaepernick

Aldon Smith

Mike Iupati

Glenn Dorsey

Michael Crabtree

Tony Jerod-Eddie

Dan Skuta

Frank Gore

Chris Culliver

Bruce Miller

Jon Baldwin

CJ Spillman

Adam Snyder

Raymond Ventrone

David Reed

Kendall Hunter

Daniel Kilgore

Garrett Celek

DJ Campbell

Brandon Carswell

If SF can hold tight this year and not disrupt the budget for next year, SF will have about $42 Million in Salary Cap to resign several of the key players below. I have listed them (above) in what I believe to be the order of priority. If SF is able to give some core players a contract extension next year, this will provide up to $15 Million additional cap space. At $57M in cap space, SF has enough money to resign the top 8 players with about $10M to spare.

SF continues to use the model of building the team through the draft and harnessing young talent at the forefront of big contracts.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Lucky Phil
    Holy Crap! You think Watkins is a 2nd rounder. I think this guy is future hall famer, but I like your balls Bee. You got some strong opinions and I respect that. I think your absolutely right about Whitner, we probably won't sign him to long term deal. I'll miss him, I loved his leadership and toughness but we just don't have the money to extend contracts to all our talent. As for Rogers, I'm still a little worried if we release him who provides the depth at DB behind Brock, Culliver?
    Feb 20, 2014 at 8:53 PM
    Response: It's too soon to call anyone a future hall of famer at this stage. I know that Watkins will be the 1st WR taken and that he will be taken in the 1st round. For me he doesn't have the toughness and run after catch exhibited by Blackmon and Dez Bryant. Watkins appears to work better in space than the 2 OSU WRs, but WR's that require space usually struggle at the NFL level. That's why I lowered his value. As for Carlos, I think SF has plenty of options in the draft. With 12 draft picks, SF can take someone in the 3rd-4th round and that person can easily be a starter for us. Truthfully, SF needs a 6'0" plus tall CB with great down field speed.
  • Lana
    in response to an irate responder who doesn't even use his name, Colin has had two opportunities for the playoffs thanks to a team effort and couldn't close the deal. I'm only a woman what do I know, but I'm a lifetime 49er faithful and if you think that much of Colin then teach him to make decisions on his own and not just run.......
    Feb 16, 2014 at 8:29 PM
    Response: Lana, thank you for commenting. I welcome all comments on here (guys and girls). As for your comments with Colin, he actually ran very few throughout the season as compared to how much he ran at Nevada. If anything, Colin has toned down his running during the regular season. As for scrambling for extra yardage, I think that is an element of his game that we should embrace. If getting 4 or 5 yards running is available, why not take it. When teams start trying to stop the run, perhaps the passing game will open up. Keep in mind that we did not have a very good receiving corp during the first 10 games this past year.
  • Ladale
    I can understand the release of a Carlos Rodgers when you have an Aldon Smith, Corey Lemonier, Tank Carradine, Dan Skuta and others making the corners jobs easier. But safeties play in the middle of the field, so before we are quick to give up on Donte Whitner we should reflect back on the days of Michael Lewis, Mark Roman and that terrible back end. CWYAF. The 9ers really struggled before Whitner.
    Feb 16, 2014 at 7:35 PM
    Response: I don't think S has an easy job and although having a good front 7 can help the secondary, I would still not use that as a reason to go after a S. You always want the highest level of talent available. In my opinion Whitner is a punishing hitter. He has good ball skills, but he plays the run much better than the pass. His speed down field is limited and most importantly, I don't think SF will be willing to give Whitner the lucrative deal that he wants, especially when SF has 12 draft picks to spend. For that reason as well as having all the other younger players that will be seeking a long term deal next year, I don't believe Whitner will get a new contract with SF.
  • Lucky Phil
    I think it would be a mistake cutting Rogers, he was still our #1 cb last year. We can get him to take less next yr. until Culliver and Brock win the starting DB position. The best way to navigate the salary cap is trading up to get Watkins and saving a ton of money signing Crabs to a long term contract. If we trade up for Watkins we could trade Crabs for a 2nd rd pick (Fuller or Purifoy) and use the money we save to sign Bolden. A better player and leader than Crabs. The salary cap is obviously the biggest challenge for every GM trying to build a dynasty. And when you have as much talent as the Niners the biggest challenge is how to keep it. That's why the draft is so important, Low Cost Talent Is Key!
    Feb 16, 2014 at 2:10 PM
    Response: Carlos was very good in the slot, but struggled on the edge. He was getting beat deep constantly and gave the WR 10-15 yd cushions on the edge. We would have to give up too much for Watkins and I don't think he's anything more than a 2nd round. As for a CB, I love Fuller. I also like Roberson much more than Purifoy.
  • niner
    why doesnt whiter get cut? inevitably he gets beat deep , which a safety shoudl never be in this passing league. He gets penalties deserved or not. earl thomas doesnt make great hits but even the loud mouth Sherman admits they cant do what they do without him. ( they took thomas we took mays remember?) get another good safty 9 vacarro and reid were very good this year) and save the money for crabtree or another wr.
    Feb 16, 2014 at 9:11 AM
    Response: Agreed.
  • Big AL
    Lana, stick with soap operas. You know nothing about football. Kap is a great QB and Alex is mediocre at best. To compare the two shows how little you know. Time management is the #1 problem of the Niners or we would have 2 more rings right now. That is Harbaugh's responsibility. The final drive vs. Seattle was the ORIGINAL AMATEUR HOUR and Harbs demonstrated that his wild emotional antics don't compare to Walsh's cool direction during crunch time. Harbaugh needs to study Walsh's game films to learn how to properly direct a 2-minute offense. That's his responsibility.
    Feb 16, 2014 at 7:19 AM
    Response: I'd agree that time management was horrible throughout the season, however time management in the playoffs were superb. 38 seconds with 2 timeouts on Seattle's 30 yd is a lifetime.
  • Rick
    Overall not bad but I would like to change a few things if I may I expect boldin, Dawson, even cox because he is better suited for our system then wright maybe osgood too, I also think whitner might return if nobody offers him any money like Carlos a few years ago. If 10 is what we have we might be able to fit a jacoby, Hester, or cribbs type because we need help on returns. We will probably draft cb, Wr, and safety early. What I'm hoping this offseason consistency bring in guys we need we need a Wr to extend the field, a safety that can cover 1st and run support 2nd a corner who doesn't need to shutout but just consistent it's frustrating to see a roster full of talent come up short three years in a row and what makes it worse Seattle doesn't seem to be going any where
    Feb 15, 2014 at 4:12 PM
    Response: I'll put out another piece on Draft Prospects very soon.
  • Lana
    I think Colin will be a good quarterback just isn't now! he's a rookie that's been pushed to hard to soon! should have kept Alex, that's another thing, Alex was never given the backing by staff or fellow players that Colin has, as you see he is a great quarterback if he had been groomed properly and had players respect! at least should have kept him until Colin learned how to make quick decisions, all he does now when he's confused is run the ball, sometimes he's lucky and others not so, I think there are other players that should be above him on the list. ......just say'n....
    Feb 15, 2014 at 3:59 PM
    Response: I disagree with you. I think Alex has had plenty of opportunity to be a starting QB. After 8 years, Alex has finally become a serviceable QB. His deep accuracy is not very good and his arm strength when he's rolling is far below average. If it wasn't for the NFLPA hold out, I don't think Alex gets resigned by the 49ers. There were a number of reasons not to keep Alex. I think individuals do not give Colin enough credit for what he has done this year. There's no doubt that Colin has to do a better job managing the clock, but his playoff run at the QB position was sensational. I can't recall a QB drafted over the past 5 years that I would rather have than Kaepernick.
  • Ryan
    i don't see the team making a huge effort to re-sign Iupati. they will not pay big money for a guard, especially one whose pass protection has been absolutely atrocious this year. i believe they want to keep the guard position cheap, and will draft a developmental player to compete with Looney next year.
    Feb 15, 2014 at 1:24 PM
    Response: Looney has been horrible in pass and run protection. He's a failed project pick in my eyes. Iupati's pass protection has been good. A lot of his trouble comes with a poor Center. His ability to pull and run block is rare for someone of his size. Unless SF is willing to spend a 1st round pick for a G, I doubt we will proceed through 2015 without his services.
  • AJ Dembroski
    I must disagree with your priorities. Both Aldon Smith and Mike Iupati are more "rare" players, more difficult to replace players, than Colin Kaepernick. This may well change by next off-season, but until we see that Kaep can be an elite quarterback and maintain it through a season, I don't think he takes precedence over truly elite talents like Iupati and Smith. That said, I'd hear arguments about Iupati (though I'd say he's the single best player on the team that doesn't play linebacker) Teams have won Superbowls without elite quarterbacks... without a dominant pass rush? Much more difficult.
    Feb 15, 2014 at 1:15 PM
    Response: I think a good QB influences a game much more than a good G or a good OLB. Everyone has a different opinion of "elite" so I won't argue that point. Kaepernick is the best QB to wear a SF jersey since Steve Young. To not consider him the #1 priority would be ludacris.
  • Dan
    This offseason will play out just like last year's. They will watch our expensive FA's walk and will try to find the guys who fell through the cracks. They'll target guys in the draft and go get them. Then they'll let them compete in camp. Only problem I have with this is the assumption that they'll sign Eric Wright. He was obviously in the dog house when it mattered most. Why does anyone think he will be re-signed?
    Feb 15, 2014 at 12:50 PM
    Response: Eric Wright is the biggest CB that SF has and SF will likely be able to resign him to a cheaper contract. He has been with SF for half a season and our system is quite different from a Tampa 2 or Man Coverage.
  • sacninerfan
    Spillman and Culliver would be in my top 10 maybe even 8. I know Spillman hasn't shown what he can do in the secondary but is that because a lack of opportunity or faith by the coaching staff, I would like to see him out there. As far as Cully is concerned, the comeback from the injury is a big question, but he is young and shows a lot of upside.
    Feb 15, 2014 at 12:48 PM
    Response: Spillman struggled in coverage in secondary. Its not a lack of opportunity, he has not shown the ability to fill the roles of that position during his time there. I would agree with your comments on Cully. He'd have to show some promise this year before SF can begin to start talking about an extension. SF does not generally resign players coming off major injuries.
  • mooseman
    Good job,However I think Rodgers will be a 5.1 million savings if realeased before June 1.This would mean no dead money next year.You would be surprised how you can fit Boldin ,Brown and Whitner. for around 10-11 million in cap money for 2014.However you would have dead money down the road.
    Feb 15, 2014 at 11:58 AM
    Response: Brown will want at least 4-5 million a year which is way too high for a CB in a quarter scheme that does not emphasize the CB position. Whitner was a liability in coverage and getting older. If desired, SF can make Whitner, Brown, and Boldin fit a 10 million cap, but that is not likely to happen.
  • deb
    Great write up.But I do believe the niners will sign a fa WR and maybe a QB.Also a player on the off line.Maybe even a corner.This is just my opinion but yes we will be active in the draft.I hope we blew the doors open in this draft!!!
    Feb 15, 2014 at 10:51 AM
    Response: Honestly, there just isn't a whole lot of cap space to get FA WR/QB/OL/CB. If we go after any position in FA, I hope we go after a Center. The depth at WR/QB/CB in the draft this year is quite deep. We can get starter caliber players as low as the 4th round.
  • Ladale
    Niiccee write up
    Feb 15, 2014 at 10:03 AM
    Response: Thank you.
  • Frank
    You left out Goodwin...it's time to get younger at the C position and there's no shortage of players under contract to do that. What makes you think they'll re-sign Wright...starting Cox over him late in the season wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement. Instead, use that $$ to sign FA CB Nolan Carroll, a rising player who shouldn't be expensive. Carroll also brings size (6-1, 205) and youth. I don't see Iupati re-signing...thanks to the bonehead Titans (who signed the lesser Andy Levitre to 6 yrs @ $47M) the market will most likely be beyond what SF's willing to pay (and rightly so). They plug in Looney at LG and the OL won't miss a beat.
    Feb 15, 2014 at 9:21 AM
    Response: I'll add Goodwin to this list, though he will not be resigned. Prior to resigning Carlos Rogers, SF was hoping Wright would take a home town discount before he signed a deal with the buccaneers. Wright was the guy SF has always wanted. Cox has a better knowledge of our scheme since he's been with the team much longer, which is why he took over in the postseason. I am not a fan of Carroll. We can get equivalent talent in the draft.

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