The San Francisco 49ers parted ways with linebacker NaVorro Bowman after the player voiced his displeasure at coming off the field. It’s been a messy situation overall, with the 49ers spending time talking about principles and how once Bowman got the ball rolling, his release was a foregone conclusion.
Bowman isn’t a good fit for Kyle Shanahan’s 4-3 defense, at least not the 2017-18 version of him. He’s lost some of his lateral movement and can’t cover the same area of the field he used to. Bowman thinks he can, and that counts for something, but ultimately he’s looked diminished thus far this year.
Still, Bowman is an above-average linebacker, and there’s always the chance that he regains his past form. In that case, he’s an incredible, league-dominating linebacker. He deserves another shot with another team, though I’m incredibly intrigued to see what kind of contract he demands.
I think there are about a dozen good landing spots for Bowman at this point, but below we’re going to take a look at three main ones and then a few others. Ian Rapoport reported on Saturday morning that Bowman is expected to sign with a team “no later than Monday,” so things should happen fast.
Maybe this one is too convenient because the actual physical location of the team is a factor, but it goes deeper than that. Yes, it would be great if Bowman wouldn’t have to uproot himself to play with a new team, but the Raiders also have a need.
Like the 49ers, they’re a young, improving team — but closer to competition. The linebacker position is one that has been a huge issue for the Raiders. Bowman would be an immediate starter on that defense. Linebackers may be the actual weakest position on the Oakland roster.
I know a lot of people here would hate to see Bowman in the hated Silver and Black, but I’d be fine with it. It would be a good fit — the best fit, as far as I’m concerned.
Bill Belichick’s defenses have typically been surprisingly strong, but they are certainly not that this season. They rank dead last in the league in yards allowed and are tied for second-worst in points allowed, at 28.4 points per game. As in Oakland, Bowman would be an immediate starter with the Patriots.
The Patriots have a lot of issues on their defensive line, so linebacker isn’t their biggest need, but they’ve had issues getting production out of the middle of their defense. Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy are both struggling big time. The team would be better with Bowman in the mix.
The Cowboys — another hated team among 49ers fans — are desperate for help on the defensive side of the ball. They’re hoping that the offense will get better as the season goes, but there’s little hope for their poor, mistake-prone defense.
Bowman would provide an immediate upgrade and he’d be able to start, like the other two destinations. Like the Raiders, linebacker is arguably the biggest need on the Cowboys defense and Bowman would be well-suited to the type of defense they run.
Many people have suggested that the Panthers are an option due to the concussion sustained by Luke Kuechly, but Bowman likely wouldn’t want to join a team that only wants him as a potential temporary injury replacement. I think Kuechly needs to take a long, hard look at his career at this point, but Bowman isn’t a band-aid solution.
The same goes for the Texans, another popular pick for a Bowman landing spot. Brian Cushing is suspended and won’t return to the field until December, at which point he would be taking snaps from Bowman. Again, he isn’t a band-aid solution so I’m not big on the Texans, even if there is an easy thing to point to.
Baltimore is another popular pick, but I think it’s the C.J. Mosley show there and don’t see a whole lot of room for someone like Bowman, who wants to be a starter and not come off the field more than a handful of times per game. I’m not sure there’s room on the Ravens for Bowman at this point.