The San Francisco 49ers have two restricted free agents they must deal with in the coming weeks, with Demarcus Dobbs and Perrish Cox both hitting the market. According to Matt Maiocco, it is apparently unlikely the 49ers will place a tender on either of their restricted free agents.
Last year, the right-of-first-refusal tender was $1.323 million. That's too high for both players, but the 49ers could be interested in bringing back both players on minimum deals in free agency.
The team has the option of placing one of several tenders on the player. They include a first round, second round, original round or basic "right of first refusal" tender. A tender is basically a one-year offer with the given compensation applied. The "right of first refusal" means exactly what it says. If another team offers a contract to the player, his current team has the right to match it. If they match it, he has to sign with them.
Generally speaking, if a player is tendered by his own team, he is unlikely to get outside offers. Teams have the right to make an offer, but in recent history, RFAs just have not been getting offers. The team could lock up Dobbs or Cox with this kind of tender, but as Maiocco pointed out, $1.323 million (likely increased this year) is too much for guys they could potentially replace in the draft, or with another veteran.
When free agency gets here, we'll likely hear news that the players have not been tendered. Do not take that to mean they are definitely leaving. Cox's status could depend in part on what the team does with Carlos Rogers. The team could save over $5 million if they release Rogers, or they could save some portion of that with a renegotiated contract. I suspect Rogers gets the axe. Cox showed some good things in the playoffs when Rogers was out with his hamstring strain. Cox's status will also depend on if the 49ers try and bring back Eric Wright. They could very well just bring them both back on relatively minimum level contracts and have them duke it out in training camp.
Dobbs's status for 2014 is a little harder to figure out. In his first two seasons, he was primarily a special teams player. This year he worked his way into the defensive line rotation behind Justin Smith and Ray McDonald, but he also was basically leap-frogged by Tony Jerod-Eddie. Both he and Cox would be looking at $645,000 base salaries as three-year credited veterans. If the 49ers looked to go even younger and cheaper, the most they would save on each player is $225,000 (difference between third year base and rookie minimum).