Last week, former San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown signed a 1-yr, $3.5 million contract with the Oakland Raiders. Prior to the signing, things had been rather quiet with Brown, with the Miami Dolphins as the only team to emerge as potentially interested in his services. He quietly signed his one year deal with the Raiders, in what is as much a prove-it deal as anything else.
Earlier today, Brown appeared on Pro Football Talk on NBCSN to talk about his trip through free agency. I didn't catch the show, but PFT reported the following quotation from it:
"[I]t wasn't what I wanted and it was to me more of a slap in the face. But I understand that it's a business and I understand that they have to do what is best for them and it's no hard feelings. But what they offered me definitely wasn't what I wanted and definitely wasn't worth my value of what I've done in this league and how well I played these past 3-4 years in the league. So it's understandable and like I said there's never any hard feelings. They are doing a great job over there and I wish them the best."
Florio talked about how Brown showed restraint with his comments. Florio mentioned the $2 million in forfeited escalator money that Brown lost because of his failure to appear at the offseason workout program. Naturally, Florio poked at the 49ers, laying the blame on them. But, that's what he does.
But that's not what's important about this. Rather, it's interesting to hear a little bit about the 49ers side of things in free agency. It would seem to me the 49ers likely offered him maybe $1 million or $2 million, or possibly even down near the league minimum. Either way, he wasn't pleased, but he is handling it fine. Even with the comment about it being a slap in the face, this still strikes me as a relatively professional way to deal with it, while still making your point. I do hope Brown uses this as motivation and gets himself a big contract (just not with a big performance against the 49ers!).
The 49ers decision to not push hard to retain Brown and Donte Whitner is not all that surprising given the 49ers financial situation. Tim Kawakami put together a column earlier today that hits on a few of those points, and it's something we've all discussed here for a while. Colin Kaepernick is going to dictate a lot of what happens financially moving forward. He doesn't have his new contract yet, but he is already impacting how the 49ers will assess their various needs.
In the case of the secondary, Donte Whitner and Tarell Brown were both very solid contributors. But the team can't afford to lock into even moderately expensive deals when they have other needs coming up soon. Antoine Bethea did not sign a cheap contract, but he did sign a flexible contract. The 49ers are otherwise young and cheap in the secondary.
The 49ers were going to have to find ways to create this kind of flexibility at some positions, and it is not surprising it happened in the secondary. The team likely can see their defensive front creating enough pressure to boost a young secondary. Additionally, this draft features a potentially deep class of cornerbacks. The replacement value of bringing in a Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard, Kyle Fuller, Lamarcus Joyner or anybody else will hopefully prove worth the loss of a veteran like Brown. There are no guarantees in the draft, but I think the team is comfortable rolling the dice back there.