NFL free agency is wrapping up a very busy first day on the east coast, but obviously there is still plenty of time for deals to get done. This whole east coast thing (living in DC the last year) can be a pain in the butt for me when it comes to the evenings, but the upside is being able to get in front of the news in the morning. I guess I have to take the bad with the good.
The 49ers are seeing several free agents leave, but the team is scheduling some visits to start filling up spots. James will have some more on the 49ers strategy, but spoiler alert, the 49ers do have 14 draft picks! That's not to say they will use all 14, but they are in a position to find some relatively low cost talent, both later in the draft and earlier thanks to the rookie cap.
For now, here is a bit of a rundown of what happened today, and what to look for moving forward. Some of this will include some links, but some was so widely reported that a single link won't really matter.
Alex Smith, Anquan Boldin trades are official
These moves were done in principle, but they had to be made official. Technically, the Anquan Boldin trade is not official until he passes his physical, when he returns from Africa. However, for all intents and purposes, the deals are done. We'll have plenty more on the Anquan Boldin trade. We've got a storystream posted with all sorts of early analysis of the deal, as well as some of the implications.
I'm honestly still not sure of my final Alex Smith post. There will be one because really this site has grown with him to a certain extent. We started in December 2006 just when things seemed to be picking up steam for him. We continued growing and he dealt with all sorts of insanity. It will be worth a final post at some point, but I just need to figure out how best to handle that. It's been a loooooong road with him.
Isaac Sopoaga agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Eagles
While I won't begrudge a man his money, I am surprised he got the deal he got, reportedly three years at close to $12 million (possibly closer to $11 million). That is similar to his last contract with the 49ers, as he was coming in just under $4 million a year this past year. He will slot in at the nose tackle spot in the Eagles 3-4.
Speaking of the Eagles....
Ricky Jean Francois visiting Philadelphia
The peanut butter and jelly man is headed to Philadelphia to meet with the Eagles on Wednesday, and then reportedly could be headed off to Cleveland after that.
Gotta get use to the cold lol. It's cool tho.— Ricky Jean Francois (@Freakyjean95) March 13, 2013
Given his utility role and the fact that some teams are enjoying throwing around money like drunken sailors, I suspect RJF will find some good money out there. This is all forming a pattern for what the 49ers saw with their own free agents, and players they were considering pursuing: the 49ers know their budget.
The combination of Isaac Sopoaga departing, and Ricky Jean Francois likely departing means we will most definitely see more of Ian Williams in 2013 and beyond. The 49ers still will consider other defensive line options, and may very well add another nose tackle. However, Ian Williams will be a prominent part of the position battle in training camp.
Delanie Walker signs with Titans
Speaking of guys getting paid....Delanie Walker got his. He told 95.7 The Game that the 49ers did come to him with an offer, but the Titans presented him with an opportunity to start. I can't blame him for wanting to get out of Vernon Davis' shadow. He has struggled at times catching the ball, but given his wide receiver background, maybe he can build on that this offseason. He's a guy I'll cheer for, except when the 49ers travel to Tennessee this fall.
This opens the door for tight end need. The 49ers have Vernon Davis and Garrett Celek on the roster, but given the heavy tight end formations Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman utilize, it's safe to say the team will be adding at least one more tight end. Maybe something early round?
Dashon Goldson is traveling to Tampa Bay
The Hawk was flown out to Tampa Bay to meet with the Buccaneers.
Someone with 98.7 The Fan tweeted me this link that was curious. Former Bucs defensive lineman Anthony "Booger" McFarland works for 98.7 and he is reporting the Bucs have an agreement in principle with Goldson. Pro Football Talk reported shortly thereafter that a deal was not yet done. Whatever the case, odds seem pretty slim that Dashon Goldson will be playing for the 49ers in 2013.
It really has felt like this relationship has been headed for a break-up for some time now. Goldson has played on back-to-back one year deals, and both sides have seemed apart on contract numbers and his perceived value. Furthermore, the 49ers openly acknowledged they would have to figure out certain priorities and would not be able to re-sign everybody. This decision is not surprising.
49ers other free agents
The rest of the 49ers free agents have not been making news today. Much of that group will not be back, although I could see Larry Grant and/or Tavares Gooden eventually coming back on one-year deals. They did not get enough opportunities (none in Gooden's case) to showcase their skills with the defense, and I think strictly special teams work is not getting them sufficient notice around the league.
Charles Woodson is coming to town on Wednesday, Laron Landry may follow
The 49ers are likely in need of a safety with Dashon Goldson likely gone. Former Packers safety Charles Woodson will come to town on Wednesday. If the two sides do not get a deal done, the 49ers are going to bring Laron Landry to town.
If Woodson is the guy the 49ers want, he could represent a decent bridge to the future. He is not a long-term option, and some might question if he's even a better option than Ed Reed. However, if the 49ers look at some of the high end safeties in the draft, Woodson could work as a mentor to a young safety. Woodson would be looking to start early, but the commitment to him long-term would likely be negligible.
Glenn Dorsey will be in town for a visit
I have to say, I really, really like the idea of signing Glenn Dorsey. He'll be 28 at the start of the season, and has never lived up to his draft potential, but getting him together with Jim Tomsula excites me to no end. It will be interesting to see what kind of money it might cost to bring him in. If they can get him at a decent price, he could prove to be a very solid option at defensive end. And getting to learn from both Tomsula and a guy like Justin Smith? I like the chances of making that work
So much for Desmond Bryant
The former Oakland Raiders defensive tackle signed with the Cleveland Browns. The 49ers were reportedly interested in him, but given that the Browns ended up signing him to a five year deal worth $34 million, there was no way that was happening. But it did lead to this fantastic GIF combining Bryant's epic mug shot with Scrooge McDuck:
49ers 2014 comp picks
It is worth noting that as Matt Maiocco pointed out on Twitter, in letting these free agents walk, the 49ers could put themselves in position for a solid number of compensatory picks in the 2014 NFL Draft. The comp pick formula is fuzzy, but if the 49ers lose more free agents than they sign, they put themselves in position for picks.
Contract and performance will play into this, and with Sopoaga and Walker already getting decent sized deals, the 49ers should be in good shape. Add in Dashon Goldson potentially getting a big deal, and Ricky Jean Francois still looking for his deal, and that's the potential for a bunch of comp picks next year.
And there you have it for now. The 49ers were not wildly busy on the first day of free agency, but they did dip their toe in the water. They made their "big move" with the trade for Anquan Boldin. Now it's a matter of filling various holes in the roster. In the the morning free agency primer, I ranked out the 49ers needs heading into free agency:
Nothing has changed at this point. Adding Glenn Dorsey would dump defensive line down a notch, but not entirely. We know the team likes Ian Williams, but we don't quite know what they expect of him. I am thinking they hope he can grab the starting job by the horns. Considering he might only be on the field 35-40% of the game, is that out of the realm of the possible.
Safety remains the top priority. If the 49ers do sign Woodson, it would still remain a priority, but we could move it down a couple notches. Add a safety in the draft and the need will have been met for now. We'll see how that plays out.
As we head into day two of free agency, we are once again reminded that the 49ers front office will not be rushed into anything. They have a plan they are sticking to, and it is best to have faith and a little patience. And with that in mind, how about an oldie but a goodie from free agency days gone past?