The San Francisco 49ers arrive at the offseason with a roster that is double-deep in talent at some position. It iis expected of Trent Baalke to try to turn some of this depth into draft capital. I assumed trades happening before this draft. Trades right ahead of roster cuts, like last season, will probably go for 7th-rounders. I included my guesses on their trade value in 2014 draft picks, FWIW. With all the picks in 2014 but limited roster spots available, I think Baalke will use players to trade up in the draft, or ask for 2015 draft picks in return. I also included cap numbers, with how much cap space the trades would cost/free up if the players are replaced by first-year players paid the rookie minimum (assumed to be $420k).
RB LaMichael James
The coaching staff failed to utilize him in the running and passng game, so the constant trade talk on trading him is no surprise. However, I don’t see Baalke trading him. A year ago, the team had two punt returners on the roster, KW and LMJ. Right now LMJ is the only punt returner on the roster. Baalke is willing to spend money and roster space on specialists, so without signing a proven PR guy on the roster before the draft, I think he will stay 49ers for next year.
Theoretically Devon Wylie is there with 7 career NFL returns for a total of 30 yards (LMJ has an average return over 10 yards), but that hardly counts as proven, nevermind explosive returner that warrants a guaranteed roster spot. Wylie could be the insurance if LMJ is traded, and none of the draft picks step up in training camp.
Trading him in would cost $426,872 dead money, but free up $641,718 base salary and $50,000 workout bonus. This equals approximately $265k savings, but replacing him with a rookie paid at minimum would cost a net $155k cap space.
Trade compensation: 6th (Baalke actively shopping him) to 4th (someone actively trying to get him).
RB Kendall Hunter
The 115th pick in the 2011 draft, Hunter has one year left on his rookie contract. I think he has better chance to be traded than LMJ. He is a more proven runner, without high mileage, and he apparently rehabbed his Achilles tear successfully. If Gore stays, his workload would not have increased with Lattimore ready. And LMJ would still be there if we need a COP back.
Dead money: One year left on his rookie contract, $109,805, base salary: $645,000. Approximately $125k savings by replacing him with a rookie on minimum contract.
Trade compensation: 6th-4th
TE Garrett Celek
Vernon and Vance have guaranteed roster spots. Derek Carrier got his was promoted due to injuries and managed to stick on the roster, and will probably fight with Celek for the 3rd TE spot. Of the two, Celek is the more proven blocker, and still not hopeless at catching the ball (3/5 this season, 7/12 career). A team needing a blocking TE who must be accounted for as a pass target might prefer him.
Dead money: $2,000, base salary: $570,000. One year left on his UDFA contract with a 4th-year RFA option. Approximately $150k savings by replacing him with a rookie on minimum contract.
Trade compensation: 2015 7th - 2014 6th
WR Jon Baldwin
The 1st-round bust swap with KC was seen as a way to get out of the 2014 guarantees of AJJ’s contract. Jon Baldwin did not manage to endear himself to the fanbase, had a few costly drops when he was targeted, and sit out the second half of the season with "illness" according to the injury reports. Yet he was productive if unreliable in the previous two years in KC. However Kap hardly threw the ball to anyone besides Boldin, Crabs, VD and the running backs, so he might have a comeback somewhere else, like Ginn Jr. had. Cutting Baldwin cost nothing, but Baalke undoubtedly will try get something for him first, like another bust-for-bust deal. He has no guarantees left on his contract, so someone will give him another chance, but he will go at a low price.
Dead money: none, base salary+WOB : $1,404,765. Approximately $985k savings by replacing him with a rookie on minimum contract.
Trade compensation: conditional 7th - 5th
OG Mike Iupati
Some people are strongly advocating trading Iupati, but I doubt we could get the proposed trade value for him. After an All-Pro 2012 season, he battled injuries and graded out neutral by PFF. He won’t be traded without a long-term contract, but he and his agent would insist on top-5 OG money. Given the decline of his performance, I think he could realistically land a deal similar to the 6.5m+ APY deal he declined last season. A team won’t be willing to pay a 2nd-round high draft pick for the privilege of such a contract, however, as his production was not that good. If Iupati is left to leave after 2014, he will probably net a 4th round compensatory pick in 2016. A 3rd-rounder compensatory would require a $9m+ APY contract.
Dead money: $1,327,500 base salary+RB: $3,098,363. Approximately $1,340K savings by replacing him with a rookie on a minimum contract.
Trade compensation: 5th - 3rd
The 49ers are two-deep in starters at DT and DE, sitting on too much talent who is not projected to see much playtime in 2014. I expect a trade to happen to clear roster space, and here the 49ers are in a very strong position, although I doubt Baalke would trade two players away. As they could put all of the players on the roster, they are not forced to trade anyone. All 49ers linemen can play at several DL positions in 3-4 and 4-3 fronts, which increases the number of available suitors. There are only a few players on the DLine I don’t see getting traded: Justin Smith, Ray MacDonald, and Tank Carradine.
DT/DE Tony Jerod-Eddie
He became a rotational player, and graded out positively by PFF. He had great production in limited number of snaps (42 tackles) and several big plays (half a sack, 2 TFL, 1 INT and another PD, 1 recovered fumble). He’s versatile to play any interior DL position. He has one year left on his UDFA contract with a cheap RFA (or ERFA) year beyond that. I put him as the best trade prospect on the team – proven with high production, yet young with two cheap contract years left. Given his value as DE, Baalke won’t trade him unless the offer is high enough.
Dead money: none Base Salary: $495,000. Cutting him is effectively cap neutral.
Trade compensation: early 4th – 3rd
DT Ian Williams
While I have TJE as our best trade prospect, I think Ian Williams has the highest chance to get traded. We signed him for a contract extension, but his injury sidelined him at a position that is currently 6-deep. In his absence, Dorsey stepped up in the starting lineup, we saw TJE playing nose at occasions, we have Dial incoming at the position, with Purcell and Tupou waiting on the Practice Squad in case of emergency. While he did not play too many regular-season snaps, there’s enough film in him from preaseason games, so he’s not an unproven commodity. The coaches and Baalke approved of his production, as shown by his 2-year extension a year ago.
Dead Money: $666,667, Base Salary: $950,000. Trade would free up $283k, replacing him with a rookie would cost at least a net $137k in cap space.
Trade compensation: 6th - 4th.
Trade probability: high
DT/DE Quinton Dial
As he sat out preseason due to injury, and got only limited snaps in game, there’s not much known of him than his college film and that Baalke was willing to draft him in the 5th round. With the depth at the position Baalke should be willing to recover a draft pick in trading him, but was he graded that high by other teams? Or the coaches and Baalke think of him even higher?
Dead Money: $404,174, Base Salary: $495,000. Trade would free up $90k, replacing him with a rookie would cost at least a net $330k in cap space.
Trade compensation: 6th - 5th.
Trade probability: low
DT Glenn Dorsey
I think he should be included in the discussion of trade prospects. He has the best draft pedigree of the tradable players and had a productive year (50 tackles and 2 sacks) with the 49ers. He probably doesn't want to get traded without signing a multi-year high-value contract with the new team.
Dead Money: $1,142,500, Base Salary+WOB: $2,650,000. Trade would free up $1.5M, replacing him with a rookie would free up a net $1.08M in cap space.
Trade compensation: 5th - 3rd.
Trade probability: low