Jason Leskiw is the Managing Editor of the Express and Staff Writer for Naked Magazine as well as being the Fantasy Editor for myfantasyadvice.net. He lives and breathes football, and focuses primarily on the 49ers. A guide to the Raiders offseason will be made available before free agency begins.
On Tuesday March 12, NFL free agency will open up. We know that neither Oakland nor San Francisco gave anyone the franchise tag before the period ended and now there are several players looking to test the waters of free agency.
Update: Glenn Dorsey was signed by the 49ers Wednesday morning. The details of his contract have yet to be disclosed, but Dorsey adds run-stopping power and has the ability to push through a double team. He was the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft.
Pending Free Agent Notables
Dashon Goldson, S Goldson was signed by Tampa Bay, to a five year deal that is potentially worth $8.25M per year.
Goldson turned down a five-year, $25M contract last offseason which led the 49ers to giving him the tag. Goldson is looking for $8M annually according to Adam Schefter. There are over 10 very good safeties entering free agency this year and plenty in the draft. There is a chance that SF may sign Goldson in free-agency if he tempers his expectations, but the 49ers also have some mild cap woes to deal with. Don’t expect him back.
Delanie Walker, TE Walker was signed by Tennessee to a four year deal worth up to $17.M
Walker, “the swiss-army knife” of the 49ers offense is a tricky free agent this year. His last contract, a meager at best three-year $6M was nothing close to what the 49ers can get him for now. He should command around $5M per season now, a figure that the 49ers may not be able to afford. I have agreed with anyone that refers to Walker as “the most underrated tight end in the NFL” and many GM’s around the league feel the same, according to reports from around the NFL. But with delicate structuring or a lack of interest, he may return. Consider Walker the guy to watch during free agency for the 49ers.
Other on the free agent list include
Ted Ginn – WR, Randy Moss – WR, Leonard Davis – OG, Ricky Jean-Francois – DT, Isaac Sopoaga – DT, Tavares Gooden – LB, Larry Grant – LB, Clark Haggans – LB, Darcel McBath – S
Of those, only Ricky Jean-Francois should be of interest to the 49ers.
Percy Harvin, WR
Harvin’s name has been included in speculation from various sources pending a potential trade between Minnesota and SF. The Vikings are supposedly looking for a second and fourth round pick. Harvin has everything that the 49ers are looking for in a receiver and can also return kicks, something they’re losing with the non-signing of Ted Ginn Jr.
Note: On Monday 3/11, multiple sources reported that Harvin would be dealt to Seattle in exchange for draft picks. Adam Schefter, Jay Glazer and Matt Maiocco were just a few notable confirmations.
John Abraham, DE
Abraham will be looked at by SF on Monday March 11, according to multiple reports. Abraham will be 35 in May and is near the tail end of his career. SF has made the front-four a priority in its roster strategy and Abraham could provide relief in the nickel. Smart money says that the 49ers can do better for less.
Who SF SHOULD target
Victor Cruz, WR
Cruz took the league by storm in the 2011 season and was a Pro Bowl receiver in 2012. The Giants can place a $2.9 restricted free agent tender on him, which means that any team looking to sign him would also need to give up a first round pick as part of the deal. Is he worth it? I say yes, especially with the 31st pick in round 1 and the 34th overall from an Alex Smith trade.
Richard Seymour, DT
Seymour is a player, like Abraham, who is old and on the last leg of his career. But What Seymour has over Abraham is experience aplenty, something that is tough to put a price tag on. But don’t take it from me, read up on what Randy Moss did for the 49ers receiving corps.
Mike Wallace, WR
There is no bigger player that I am interested in tracking this offseason than Mike Wallace. He is the hardest working receiver in the NFL, confirmed by Mike Tomlin’s reports of him working out and studying film for 16 hours per day, then sleeping at the Steelers practice facility on a cot. Even when holding out for a contract extension last offseason, he worked out for a reported 10 or more hours per day. Talk about dedication. Wallace will receive top dollar for his services, and though the 49ers only have a projected $13M in cap space to date, he is the piece that almost guarantees the 49ers a championship.
Two players to look for during draft week:
Marcus Trufant, CB
Trufant already has two brothers playing corner in the NFL and has picked the brains of both the same way a hawk picks at the carcass of a dead rodent. Trufant stands the possibility of going early in the draft, but the 49ers should pay close mind to him. If he goes to another NFC West team, the 49ers could be competing for a wild card spot next December.
Keenan Allen, WR
It’s no secret to anyone that Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have been working hard to replicate the receiving corps of the Montana-Young era. They have no clear number two reciever, which enables teams to clamp down hard on Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. Allen played four star-studded years at UC Berkeley and before he missed the combine, was the front-runner at his position. With the overwhelming line issues plaguing many NFL teams, the 49ers stand a chance at either trading down to grab him, or simply stealing him with the 31st overall pick.
Cuts to make
Mario Manningham, WR
Manningham was the only notable signing of the silent 49ers 2012 free agency period. It was hoped that he would be the nail-in-the-coffin in addition to adding Randy Moss. He then tore his MCL and ACL halfway through the season, injuries that players never recover from when combined. Fact is, Manningham would be lucky to even be able to play a snap during the season opener since the multiple surgeries required need months in-between for evaluation and recovery. He is due just under $5M including incentives this season.
Ahmad Brooks, OLB
Brooks is one heck of a player. No doubt about it. Do I want him to go? No way, Jose. But given the 49ers cap issues, he needs to at least re-structure his contract which currently gives him $5M this season and more the next. Justin Smith will be a free agent after this upcoming season, which will alleviate $8M in 2014. Both Tavares Gooden and Larry Grant should be able to fill the void if Baalke decides to let go of Brooks.
Parys Haralson, OLB
Haralson will make $2.8M in 2013, too much for a backup. This also solves a major cap issue and allows the 49ers to comfortably retain Ahmad Brooks. Haralson was the 49ers top linebacker just a few years ago, but serves as a second-team player that uses its first-team 95 percent of the time.
Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman will combine to make only $6.7M in 2013 and are two of the best linebackers in the NFL. That number will escalate however until Willis’s contract ends in 2016 and Bowman’s in 2018.
The 49ers have 29 players currently owed less than $1M in 2013. They have less than $1M in dead money (from players that have been cut, but are still owed money from existing contracts) and the release of David Akers was $566,668 of it. Releasing safety Donte Whitner would double the existing dead money, but save $4.1M against the cap. Cutting Manningham would save $3.6M in cap space and leave only $500,000 in dead money, which is nearly what he’d make in workout and roster bonuses.
The 49ers have 15 picks in the upcoming draft which they can either trade for future picks or better picks. They have picks 31, 34, 61, 74 and 93 in the first three rounds. Pick 74 and 93 are third round picks. 34 and 61 are second round picks. Recent second round picks for SF have been: LaMichael James (2012), Colin Kaepernick (2011), Taylor Mays (2010). Recent third round picks have been: Chris Culliver (2011), Navarro Bowman (2010), Glen Coffee (2009). The 49ers have traded up or down for picks in every draft over the past five years.
Other notable draft steals include: Kendall Hunter (2011, rd. 4), Daniel Kilgore (2011, rd. 5), Anthony Dixon (2010, rd. 6) and Ricky Jean Francois (2009, rd. 7), Dashon Goldson (2007, rd. 4). Needless to say, the 49ers know how to pick ‘em.