In nine days, NFL free agency kicks off, meaning we get a whole host of rumors will be swirling for much of March. However, the start of free agency also means the start of trades and other new league year business. Teams can officially start making trades on March 11, but in reality, we could see trades sorted out before then. As we saw last year, the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs agreed to the Alex Smith trade in late February before it was officially announced in March.
The NFL has its share of trade rumors already starting to float around. On Saturday, speculation began emerging that the Philadelphia Eagles might consider a trade of wide receiver Desean Jackson. Philly.com had the initial speculation, discussing how the return of Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin might put the Eagles in a position to listen to offers. That was followed by Howard Eskin talking about how he heard a deal might happen because the Eagles are tired of his "drama". Unfortunately, Eskin did not cite anything other than what we can infer are "anonymous sources". I understand the need for anonymous sources, but when it comes to those kinds of sources, we have to take them with a grain of salt. This is particularly true in the case of negative reports (talking Ann Killion Harbaugh story as well). After all, everyone has an agenda.
The other trade rumor that has been floating around is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will deal Darrelle Revis at some point. There are some rumors the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos might be in the hunt for Revis. It's all just rumor for now, but Sander over at Bucs Nation put together a good rundown of the reasons why the Bucs should consider dealing Revis.
Naturally, when trade rumors start swirling around big names, people start connecting them to the 49ers (or their own team whatever the fan base). In a world of fantasy football and believing anything can happen, it is easy to trade players to your team. It makes for fun discussion, and thinking of the potential all star quality teams that could be assembled.
Unfortunately for those folks, I have to burst their bubble. The 49ers are not going to trade for Desean Jackson or Darrelle Revis. Both are incredibly talented, and would likely improve the 49ers chances of winning the Super Bowl this season. However, we know two things about this franchise. The first is they like to extend their own guys that have proven themselves. The second is they prefer to pay wholesale prices over retail prices for outside players. That means finding good deals in free agency, and then looking to build the base of the team through the draft.
Desean Jackson brings a huge speed element that could put this 49ers offense over the top. However, even if we assume the 49ers properly utilized Jackson, you're talking about a guy making base salaries of $10.5 million in 2014, and $9.75 million in each of 2015 and 2016. If the 49ers dealt for Jackson, I can't imagine they would then be keeping both him and Michael Crabtree for the long term. They could invest extra money at wide receiver, but given the philosophies of this team, I'm not seeing it.
Darrelle Revis is a shutdown corner of the first order, and would add a huge element to the secondary. However, the money is once again untenable. He is scheduled to earn $13 million each of the next five seasons, along with $3 million in roster and workout bonuses each year. None of the money is guaranteed, so from a cap perspective, it is easy for the Bucs to deal him. They don't have to worry about prorated bonus money or other guarantees accelerating.
The 49ers have not invested a ton of money in their secondary, but this is one that comes down to paying wholesale vs. retail. If the 49ers want to invest "heavily" in the cornerback position, I would rather make a move to get a Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard or Jason Verrett. They are not sure things, but if the team is going to maintain cap flexibility, they need to be willing to roll the dice on finding the right kind of young talent. I don't think Revis is going to break down any time, but I'd rather spread the money across more of the defense, and potentially have some cost control at cornerback.
I suppose the 49ers could inquire about re-doing either of their deals before a trade, but with top of the line talent, you're going to pay serious bucks. It's just the nature of the business. The team has to continue to improve at finding talent in the draft, and built out from there.