The Philadelphia Eagles released defensive end/outside linebacker Trent Cole on Wednesday, and it appears the San Francisco 49ers might be interested. Jason LaCanfora tweeted he "hears" the 49ers will be players in the market, and "expects" the New York Jets to be as well.
The 49ers, who are trying to secure Darnell Dockett, will also be players in the market for Cole from what I hear.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 4, 2015
I'd expect the Jets to be among the teams to reach out to Trent Cole now that he's a free agent. His market won't take long to form— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 4, 2015
My initial thought was that this is likely his agent getting the word out there to get the market going. He is 32 years old, but he has also been a productive pass rusher for the Eagles. He had seven sacks and 26 hurries in 2014, and ten sacks and 29 hurries in 2013. He played some OLB in their 3-4, but everything I've read indicates he is better suited as a 4-3 defensive end. He is listed at 6'3, 270 pounds. The 49ers OLBs have been in the 260 range, so his size would not exactly be the end of the world.
If the 49ers were going to use him as a 3-4 OLB, it would make it all the more likely that Ahmad Brooks will be cut, and Dan Skuta will not be re-signed. On the other hand, if he is looked at as a better 4-3 end, it gets a little more interesting. The 49ers do not run a 4-3, so his best opportunity would come when the 49ers switched to their four-man pass rush front. That would remove either Aldon Smith or Aaron Lynch. While Aldon did not look quite himself last season after the suspension, we know he is immensely talented. Lynch showed a lot as a pass rusher. Even if the 49ers wanted to rotate guys, they would be removing one of the two young pass rushers.
The other idea is that maybe the 49ers will mix in more four-man fronts on base downs. Back in January, I mentioned hearing the 49ers might make a move to a 4-3 in 2015. Jim Tomsula has said they will stick with the 3-4, but maybe we end up seeing more hybrid stuff, with a mix of 3-4 and 4-3. I don't expect that, but it is certainly one possibility.
Chip Kelly said Cole was released because they could not agree on a restructured contract. Cole was due to make $10 million in 2015. The 49ers could make a deal work, but it will all depend on how his market shakes out. Cole is talented, but given that he is better suited for the 4-3, and is likely looking at a decent sized chunk of change, I'm not enthusiastic about pursuit.