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Alex Boone missing beginning of OTAs, potentially due to contract displeasure

The San Francisco 49ers might have an unhappy camper. OG Alex Boone is reportedly not pleased with his current contract and may skip all of the voluntary OTAs.


The San Francisco 49ers open OTAs today, and we already have our first piece of noteworthy news. ESPN's Bill Williamson was the first to report (followed up by Matt Barrows) that offensive lineman Alex Boone is skipping the team's voluntary OTAs. They both said Boone is not happy with his contract situation. OTAs are voluntary, so we'll see where this proceeds when the team's mandatory minicamp kicks off on June 17. That is the first time the team can fine a player for an unexcused absence.

It's safe to say that Boone has outplayed his contract. Boone signed a 4-year contract late in the 2011 season that locked him up through 2015. At the time, Boone was operating in a utility role at tackle. The following offseason, Boone moved over to right guard and claimed the starting role for the 2012 season. He became a standout on the line, and it became pretty clear he was going to outperform his contract.

In 2013, Boone remained at right guard, but showed he retained his versatility when he replaced Joe Staley at left tackle in Week 13 against the St. Louis Rams. The 49ers had lost Mike Iupati already, replaced by Adam Snyder. When Staley then went down, Boone moved to left tackle and Joe Looney moved in at right guard. Boone excelled in the role.

I mention the flexibility because it only adds to Boone's value to the 49ers. He is playing great at guard, and yet he still has the skill-set to move to tackle if needed. A lot of teams will pay a lot of bucks for that. The question now is whether or not the 49ers will do so. The common refrain that initially came out with the tweets is the idea that the 49ers have to decide whether they will upset the salary cap dynamic of their offensive line. Joe Staley has generally out-performed his contract as well, and could be looking at a new deal. If Boone got a new deal, I have to think Staley would want the same thing. At the end of this article, I broke down the current contract status of the 49ers "Big 4" on the offensive line.

The 49ers head into this season with Mike Iupati in his walk year, and Boone due for a new contract after 2015. The 49ers drafted USC center Marcus Martin, and Clemson guard Brandon Thomas. Martin is expected to compete primarily at center, but it sounds like he'll be getting work at the guard positions as well. Thomas is expected to spend this season on the NFI list after suffering a torn ACL during a workout with the New Orleans Saints back in April.

With Joe Looney getting some time in Week 13, and looking pretty decent, the 49ers have some options if they decide they are not going to pay up for Iupati and Boone. The 49ers conceivably could try to trade Boone if they think this will become a problem. However, if Boone were to hold out into the season, they also could roll the dice with Looney and/or Martin at right guard as long as Boone holds out. If Boone held out the whole year, his contract would toll and he'd go through this again in 2015. However, he can hold out up to ten games and then return to accrue his season toward free agency.

It remains to be seen how this will play out. People might not be pleased with the notion of a potential holdout, but given the state of the NFL, what injuries can do to a career and the general lack of guaranteed contracts, I really can't blame a player for holding out. It'd be nice if everyone got along, but that's not how things work. There are some guaranteed contracts out there, but the length of the guarantees can be fairly limited. If Boone had struggled after signing the new deal, and regressed in skill, the 49ers would have been well within their rights to release him.

We've seen it with the 49ers already this offseason with both Jon Baldwin and Craig Dahl. We saw it last year with Jonathan Goodwin. Teams can tell a player, "we're going to cut you, unless you take a pay cut." When a deal is not guaranteed, that is going to happen. Given how easily that can happen, and given how quickly an NFL career can be cut short, I can't blame a player for trying to get a pay day sooner rather than later.

Alex Boone

2012 signing bonus: $1,700,000

2014 base: $2,000,000
2014 roster bonus: $200,000
2014 workout bonus: $50,000

2015 base: $1,200,000
2015 roster bonus: $200,000
2015 workout bonus: $50,000

Mike Iupati

2014 base salary: $2,970,500
2014 roster bonus: $327,863

Joe Staley

2014 base: $2,700,000
2014 roster bonus: $500,000
2014 workout bonus: $200,000

2015 base: $4,500,000
2015 roster bonus: $500,000
2015: workout bonus: $200,000

2016 base: $5,400,000
2016 roster bonus: $500,000
2016 workout bonus: $200,000

2017 base: $6,250,000
2017 roster bonus: $500,000
2017 workout bonus: $200,000

Anthony Davis

2013 Signing Bonus: $7,500,000

2014 base: $1,845,600
2014 roster bonus: $2,320,000

2015 base: $2,350,000
2015 roster bonus: $1,000,000

2016 base: $2,650,000
2016 roster bonus: $1,000,000

2017 base: $4,000,000
2017 roster bonus: $1,000,000

2018 base: $5,375,000
2018 roster bonus: $1,000,000

2019 base: $5,375,000
2019 roster bonus: $1,000,000