Free Agency Preview
And so we find ourselves a little over five hours away from free agency and the potential for holes to be filled and questions to be answered. Depending on whom you ask, the 49ers have either $37 million or $42 million cap space. Either way, it's more than anybody else in the league, and for a team with plenty of needs, it could not come at a better time. The 49ers have finally emerged from the late 90s, early `00s salary cap hell and have put themselves in a position to establish a foundation of winning for the foreseeable future.
It has become quite clear that the 49ers will be major players in free agency, as they've been mentioned in conjunction with Adalius Thomas, Leonard Davis, Donte Stallworth, Nate Clements and Drew Bennett, among others. Thomas and Nate Clements could be considered the crown jewels of this free agent class as they will probably make the biggest impact on their respective teams.
However, it will also be interesting to see if the 49ers are able to snag an under the radar player that will contribute right away. The team needs to improve in most areas of their defense, but also need some play makers on offense. If Vernon Davis is able to step up into that #1 receiver role, a Drew Bennett could combine with Arnaz Battle to form a potent 2/3-receiver combo. Of course, the WR issues would be affected dramatically if Antonio Bryant is given his release.
Finally, there are some new names out there (and possibly more as further cuts happen). The Pittsburgh Steelers just released Joey Porter and the Saints released Joe Horn. Horn might be too old, although he could certainly provide some sort of spark if healthy. On the other hand, the Steelers felt Joey Porter did not fit into their defensive scheme going forward. Porter has had some character issues, and as we all know, Mike Nolan is not one too take that kind of thing lightly (particularly a guy who's been shot in the butt). While I don't see us signing Porter, it's just one more option out there.
Looking at all the free agents out there, throw out your predictions of who you think the team will sign. Scouts Inc. provided their ratings off all the free agents in an Insider article at espn.com.
You can go to that link, or if you click read more, you'll see a list of the top 25 unrestricted free agents.
No matter what, the next few weeks will be filled with rumor and innuendo, mixed in with the occasional double cross. To the 49ers, Happy Hunting.
[EDITOR'S NOTE] - As I was informed, Antonio Bryant has been given his release and the team will only take a hit of $800,000 in dead money against the cap this year and actually save $1.5 million. I think receiver moves up on our list of needs now.
- 1. Adalius Thomas, LB - Baltimore
- 2. Nate Clements, CB - Buffalo
- 3. Lance Briggs (Franchise), LB - Chicago
- 4. Eric Steinbach, OG - Cincinnati
- 5. Dwight Freeney (Franchise), DE - Indianapolis
- 6. London Fletcher-Baker, LB - Buffalo
- 7. Asante Samuel (Franchise), CB - New England
- 8. Charles Grant (Franchise), DE - New Orleans
- 9. Cory Redding, DT - Detroit
- 10. Justin Smith (Franchise), DE - Cincinnati
- 11. Josh Brown (Franchise), K - Seattle
- 12. Kris Dielman, OG - San Diego
- 13. Patrick Kerney, DE - Atlanta
- 14. Ken Hamlin, S - Seattle
- 15. Leonard Davis, OT - Arizona
- 16. Cato June, LB, Indianapolis
- 17. Tony Pashos, OT - Baltimore
- 18. Donnie Edwards, LB - San Diego
- 19. Daniel Graham, TE - New England
- 20. Shaun O'Hara, C - NY Giants
- 21. Donte Stallworth, WR - Philadelphia
- 22. Jon Stinchcomb, OT - New Orleans
- 23. Ruben Brown, OG - Chicago
- 24. Deon Grant, S - Jacksonville
- 25. Ahman Green, RB - Green Bay