NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that San Francisco 49ers center Weston Richburg recently had hip surgery, and there is no timetable for his return. Rapoport said it’s likely that Richburg has played his last down in San Francisco, and his future on the field is to be determined.
We’ve all operated under the impression that Richburg isn’t coming back to the Bay Area in 2021. Here’s to a speedy recovery and a clean bill of health above all. Unfortunately, his career has been shortened due to injuries. Richburg has had three surgeries since he last played a game for the 49ers. Richburg was a stud when healthy, and we only saw glimpses of his play in San Francisco.
The 49ers have until March 9 to decide whether or not to retain Richburg and his contract. While Richburg is under contract for the next two seasons, there is no more guaranteed money remaining in his contract, nor does Richburg have any injury guarantees.
Releasing Richburg pre-June-1 would save $4.5 million of the $12 million-ish Richburg is owed in 2021. The 49ers could elect to release Richburg with a post-June-1 designation, but that extra money saved cannot be used until June 1.
The 49ers could catch a break if Richburg elects to retire. If I have this correct, you only lose the prorated bonus money once a player retires, and you get back all of the base salaries and unearned bonuses. Richburg’s prorated bonus money is $6.9 million, while his base salary comes in at $16.5 million. That’s not counting Richburg’s unearned bonuses, nor does it account for how that money is split on the cap.
Dekoda Shepley is the only healthy center that the 49ers have under contract. Daniel Brunskill is an ERFA, though it’s safe to assume he’ll return in 2021. Ben Garland and Hroniss Grasu are unrestricted free agents. Center was already a need, but Richburg’s health issues mean that it’s imperative for the Niners to nail down this position this offseason.