The San Francisco 49ers are parting ways with defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, and both parties confirmed the news on Wednesday. NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport had the news first, the 49ers confirmed it shortly after with local media, and now Mitchell has offered his own confirmation via Twitter.
I’m very thankful for my time with the Niners. I put my heart and soul into this game so as always, I’m thankful for every opportunity. Good luck to all of my brothers especially in the d-line room. pic.twitter.com/NqVemq1bZ9— BIG EARL (@EarlMitchell90) January 24, 2019
The move is not a surprising one. He brought veteran leadership to the locker room, but the decision to move D.J. Jones into the starting lineup the final four weeks suggested the team was ready to move on from Mitchell.
The team did not pick up his option, and reports suggest this will let him hit the open market before free agency formally begins in March. This gives him a leg up for finding a job sooner rather than later. Matt Maiocco suggested the team might welcome him back at a lower price (he was due $3.7 million in 2019), but that seems unlikely.
He could very well land a deal soon, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t sign a deal until closer to an offseason workout program or potentially even training camp. The current CBA makes it more likely teams will look for younger, cheaper options. Veterans get jobs after being released, but it usually takes some time to get things done.
Best of luck to Earl!