The first phase of NFL free agency has passed, but there are still some intriguing options available. The reduction in the salary cap means that some veterans could be had on cheap one-year deals in anticipation of the cap rising again for the 2022 season.
The San Francisco 49ers have been one of the busiest teams in the league over the past two weeks. They re-signed several of their own free agents, made a bold move by trading up to nab the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and restructured injured pass-rusher Dee Ford’s lucrative contract.
Despite all of the spending, the Niners still have roughly $19.7 million in cap space per Over the Cap. San Francisco will need to use about half of that total on signing its draft picks but still has plenty left if it wants to add some pieces before the season. The other option for the team would be to roll over some of that money to the 2022 campaign.
Safety Tony Jefferson will reportedly meet with the 49ers in the coming weeks, but the Niners could also look to bolster their roster in other areas.
San Francisco looks set at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver but could look to add some depth at tight end and on the offensive line.
Remaining tight ends: Jordan Reed, Trey Burton, Tyler Eifert, Jesse James.
The 49ers signed Reed late in the offseason as a secondary pass-catching option at the position to pair with George Kittle. Unfortunately, the pair only appeared in two games together because of injuries. Burton had 28 receptions for 250 yards and three scores while playing for the Indianapolis Colts last season, while Eifert caught 36 passes for 349 yards and two scores for the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.
Remaining offensive lineman: Russell Okung, Kelechi Osmele, Alejandro Villanueva, Eric Fisher, Austin Blythe.
It looks like the Niners will go with Trent Williams, Laken Tomlinson, Alex Mack, Daniel Brunskill and Mike McGlinchey as their starters in 2021, but as we saw last season, you can never have enough depth. The veterans might hold up for more lucrative contracts, but they might be better off taking a short-term contract as a prove-it type deal given the drop in the cap.
San Francisco looks set in most areas of the defense, but the secondary could use some help. Despite playing 13 games last season, Verrett has had issues staying in the lineup throughout his career. Both Moseley and Williams missed some time in 2020 as well. There hasn’t been much of a market for All-Pro Richard Sherman, who spent the last three seasons with the team. The 33-year-old only suited up in five games last season.
The 49ers could also use some depth at linebacker. Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw are the horses at the position, but Azeez Al-Shaair remains unproven.
Best remaining defensive players: Sherman, Geno Atkins, Jadeveon Clowney, Brian Poole, Melvin Ingram, Oliver Vernon, Malik Hooker, Aldon Smith, Quinton Dunbar.
General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan will address some of the positions of need at the 2021 NFL Draft but should have enough money available to bring in a veteran who could have an impact next season.
Which remaining free agent would you like to see the 49ers attempt to sign?