Fooch's Update: Mario Manningham has agreed to a 1-yr deal with the Giants.
We had another minor rush of news on Monday, as a couple notable free agents found new homes. The New York Giants got things going when they signed cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie signed a 5-year deal worth $35 million. The Oakland Raiders followed that up by signing wide receiver James Jones to a 3-year deal worth $11.3 million deal.
Rodgers-Cromartie was arguably the best cornerback left on the market. There are still some solid corners available, but as is often the case a week into free agency, there is often some reason that player is still around. I'm a little surprised DRC got this kind of deal a week into the new league year. Some folks were wondering if the 49ers would approach him. If they did, this kind of pricing likely moved them out of the market quickly. He did not get the same money as cornerbacks the week before, but it was still out of the 49ers market.
Jones was among the best receivers left on the market. He's originally a Bay Area guy, so this is a homecoming of sorts for him. Another receiver on the market is Mario Manningham. The one-time 49er is recovering from his knee injury, and it looks like he might be headed for a reunion with the Giants. He reportedly met with the team on Monday. The Giants could probably get him at close to the league minimum given his injury recovery.
The 49ers seemingly were looking for wide receiver help in this market, but nothing seemed to pop up. They reportedly approached Julian Edelman, and had interest in Emmanuel Sanders and Hakeem Nicks. Who knows how close to reality that was, but as the market thins out, the 49ers are likely focusing on the draft class. And this applies to both wide receiver and cornerback. Those two positions are especially deep in this year's draft.
While guys like Jones and DRC are proven commodities, you also have to pay a premium to get that. The 49ers have $3.726 million in cap space still available, but they need to save some room for these coming contract extensions. The team has not exactly wow'd in their draft efforts at wide receiver, but they can't give up because of the struggle to develop receivers.
The future of Michael Crabtree remains uncertain for now, but they have to plan for all major contingencies. And while I hope they re-sign Crabtree, they do have to consider the possibility that he does not re-sign. While Jones, Sanders and Edelman all bring something to the table, I don't look at any of them as a potential successor to Crabtree. And if the 49ers do extend Crabtree, I don't view any of them as the necessary complementary piece to him and Anquan Boldin. This year's draft has a variety of talent, and the 49ers can add multiple guys who can do different things. Maybe they won't pan out, but hopefully the front office has learned from past foibles.