The 2017 NFL draft is a little over two weeks behind us, and as teams move further into their offseason workout programs, roster cuts are picking up steam. We won’t see a lot of cuts, but teams have a better idea of their roster, and pricey veterans are likely to get cut sooner rather than later.
The 49ers did that with DuJuan Harris last week, and the Los Angeles Chargers went slightly bigger this week, releasing offensive tackle Orlando Franklin, according to multiple reports. The Chargers signed Franklin to a five-year contract back in 2015 after his rookie deal with the Denver Broncos expired. He was due $6 million this year. If he is a post-June 1 designation, the chargers clear that $6 million this year.
Franklin spent his first three years in Denver playing right tackle, but then moved to left guard his final season. He spent his two seasons in San Diego playing left guard. The team drafted Forrest Lamp in the second round and Dan Feeney in the third round, and the writing was quickly on the wall.
Veterans would likely prefer being cut now rather than closer to or during training camp. It gives them time to figure out their next destination before they are too much further behind the eight ball in competing for a role.
The 49ers have invested in the offensive line this offseason, but primarily with veterans. The team traded for center/guard Jeremy Zuttah, and signed Garry Gilliam, Tim Barnes, and Brandon Fusco. All three could compete for a variety of roles as the 49ers overhaul some parts of their offensive line.
The 49ers were brutally honest about their willingness to quickly part ways with somebody if a better option comes along. This is how the NFL works, but John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan were open about it during a mid-draft press conference. If they think someone like Franklin can improve them at guard, they could attempt to make a run at the 29-year old offensive lineman. He struggled in his two years with the Chargers, seeing his Pro Football Focus grades sitting near the bottom of NFL guards.
Franklin might be shuffled out of the NFL sooner rather than later, but the 49ers might be willing to roll the dice on him to add some competition. He might have some better options with teams that are expected to be more competitive, but if the 49ers think he has something to offer, they have the cap space to make a more than competitive offer.