Earlier today, I had a post about the restructuring of Michael Lewis's contract and what that means going forward. There are several ways to spin it, one of which was that taking money from him could be a move inspired by needing cash for other players. I don't think we should jump the gun and assume such things, especially because I think that the money was freed up more so because they don't feel that Lewis should be paid much more than the $1.7M they restructured to. Still, it's worth (another) look at who is coming up and due for an extension and pay raise, or as it shall be known, an "anti-Lewis."
Because it literally will be the opposite of what happened to Michael Lewis — rather than lose two years, a given player will get at least another two and rather than a pay cut, a given player will get a pay raise. I'm sure you know all of this, but I tend to rant on without particular rhyme or reason, though I think I may have one here.
If some of this money were to go to a player coming up on a contract year, who do you think it goes to? The 49ers already have some cap room to spread around, but so far it seems like they've only had semi-significant talks with pro bowl tight end Vernon Davis. I think it might be someone else, personally, so make the jump to find out who.
Alex Smith comes to mind for the first extension, not because i believe he's done enough to deserve it, but because I get that kind of vibe from the coaches. Singletary and Jimmy Raye (not to mention a sizable portion of the fanbase) seem to be pretty happy with Smith as the starting quarterback. What we do know is that Singletary is, at the very least, uneasy about the backup quarterback position and pretty dead-set on keeping Alex Smith healthy and well-protected.
I'm not suggesting a blockbuster deal or some righteously large extension, but the team was well-off in the regards to cap room (note there isn't a cap, presently) before this restructuring of Lewis, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to take that money and throw it at Smith and kick on one more year to his contract based solely on the fact that quarterbacks can be problematic to sign at times and that's one last thing we have to worry about if Smith suddenly breaks out and demands the big bucks while we have some of these next guys coming up.
Vernon Davis is the next obvious choice, and definitely the most deserving, in my opinion. He had a pro bowl and record-tying year, and nothing he did really appears like it could turn out to have been a fluke. He's coming up on the end of his contract and has already had preliminary talks with the team on an extension. He's confident that a deal will get done, and has expressed that he "isn't worried about it."
Dashon Goldson is a player who's difficult to gauge as far as the likelihood of returning is concerned. He's been rumored to want "top safety money," and the 49ers have been rumored as reluctant to give him as such. After all, he really only did have eight really strong games last season (read: the second half of the season) and it's easy to see why the team is reluctant at this point in time. The team could always use the franchise tag on him, but I'm almost certain he's below Vernon Davis and possibly Alex Smith on the priority list.
Other names include Aubrayo Franklin and Manny Lawson, two players coming up soon. I think Lawson gets an extension before Franklin does, but I'd rate the two of these guys pretty low on the food chain. Ricky Jean Francois makes Franklin a little expendable at the moment, so if he's asking for much, well, that's that. Ahmad Brooks, Diyral Briggs and Travis LaBoy all are crowding around the starting job at either outside linebacker position right now, so it appears Lawson is expendable. It's worth noting, though, that Lawson looks like a different guy this offseason after coming on strong last season. Whether he gets extended depends on his play this year and the play of the Brooks, Briggs and LaBoy, but I do think Lawson's stock for an extension goes up every time he sees the field.