Trent Baalke is generally a man that any 49ers fan can trust to make great judgment calls. From draft day to free agency, the man has been seemingly flawless.
The trade with the Baltimore Ravens, the 49ers acquiring receiver Anquan Boldin for a singular sixth round draft pick, wasn’t as simple as it seems. Boldin will be 33 by the end of next season and is far past his prime. His contract is the bigger concern, at a wholly guaranteed six-million dollars. That’s the equivalent of Delanie Walker’s new contract, plus Patrick Willis’s current contract. Oh, plus Colin Kaepernick’s contract. Plus add in the salaries of any draft pick past round one.
Boldin recorded four regular season touchdown receptions in 2012, lending one a basis to believe that he may very well have received far less than his current contract in free agency. He also only caught 65 passes out of 112 targets. Baltimore was reportedly planning to release him after he refused a pay cut.
And this isn’t even the most bothersome part of the deal.
Wide Receiver Victor Cruz is a restricted free agent this year and the New York Giants have made the commitment, valiantly, that Hakeem Nicks is their first priority. Now as a restricted free agent, Cruz would cost the 49ers a first round pick. The Giants would have an opportunity to match the offer from the 49ers as well. But what you get in Cruz is far more than the 49ers have received from 2012’s first round selection AJ Jenkins.
Cruz caught 86 passes for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012.
I’ve heard many people talking about Colin Kaepernick’s upcoming payday after this coming season, but they also forget that the 49ers have around $30M dropping off the payroll after this season. They can afford a lot. Furthermore, the positions that will need refiguring are easily replicated, if not much improved.
One can presume that Baalke plans to target Cruz next season in unrestricted free agency, but that notion is unlikely to materialize because of the attention Cruz will garner in unrestricted free agency.
Even more, New York would have the chance of resigning him before any other team and could make cuts next year that they could not this year. He would have been a steal. Using the top of the heap in slot receiver contracts, Wes Welker received a two-year deal worth $12M. Danny Amendola signed a five-year deal worth up to $28.5M. There’s no certainty that Cruz wouldn’t demand more, but at those numbers it’s unlikely that there would be a notable difference.
And now Josh Cribbs may be gone also.