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Joe Staley joked about his options when he becomes a free agent after the 2019 season

Seriously, he’s joking. Maybe not. No, really, he is.

San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley announced two weeks ago that he was planning on returning for 2019. He had pondered retirement in 2017, but a good talk with Kyle Shanahan got him back on track amidst team struggles.

The question now is what the future holds after 2019. Staley is not signed beyond 2019, and if he plays out next season without a new deal, it could mark the first time he will hit unrestricted free agency.

On Wednesday, Staley was talking about the team’s development and his excitement for 2019. He happened to mention it was the last year of his deal and joked about what it might mean.

“I have one more year on my contract, so I’ll be — that’ll be the first time I hit free agency, so that’s exciting. Yea, I might go somewhere else, you never know [laugh].”

He talked about how even thought he might like to play into his 40s (he’s 35), he also knows the physicality of his position means he can’t predict that far ahead. Instead, after 2019 he sees it as year-to-year.

At that point, Matt Maiocco said, “You joked about free agency—” and Staley interrupted with, “Did I? [Laugh].” Maiocco asked him if he would consider playing for another team if he wanted to play beyond 2019 and the 49ers were ready to move on.

“All options are open [sarcastic]. No, I don’t know. Where’s my agent at? I’ve never had to deal with that. Yea, I would (mock serious) — I don’t know. I’m just focused on coming back for one more year and then after that, we’ll see.”

It was an amusing exchange, and obviously the tone of his comments is important. You can watch the whole thing here (4:35-6:47 in the video), and we’ve cut up a few of the comments in this short video. I could have gone with a truly click-bait headline, but I won’t play Joe like that!