With the NFL free agency period just getting started, the San Francisco 49ers will say goodbye to key players and will look to add new faces in the coming months. Free agency began Tuesday at 1 pm pst and the Niners could be busy throughout the signing period. The 49ers released defensive back Carlos Rogers to free up cap space, a move that gives the Niners about $15 million to spend.
CB Carlos Rogers
This release became official yesterday and frees up $5.1 million in cap space. Rogers has started every game for the Niners for the past three seasons, but is turning 33 in July. The veteran could draw interest from teams that are looking for a proven defensive back to play the slot. While seeing Rogers back in a Niners uniform next season isn't completely out of the question, it is still very unlikely.
S Donte Whitner
The hard-hitting safety was signed by the Cleveland Browns to a four-year, $28 million contract almost immediately after free-agency began. The deal was first reported as official just three minutes after 1pm pst. The move confirms that TJ Ward will be leaving Cleveland.
CB Tarell Brown
The eight-year veteran is coming off a somewhat inconsistent season where he recorded only 32 tackles in 13 games and had zero interceptions. Brown's asking price is said to be too high for the 49ers to pursue the free agent. Unless he lowers his salary demand, Brown should be wearing a different uniform next season.
It's pretty obvious that the defensive back field is going to take a big hit during this off-season and the Niners will have to look there first in free agency. The main priority for the 49ers should be the defensive secondary, but they will also need to address other positions. A number three wide receiver and a linebacker to play while Navarro Bowman is out are other areas that will be considered moving forward.
Day 1 Signings/Acquisitons:
Almost as quickly as the Donte Whitner signing to the Browns, the 49ers brought in their newest safety Bethea. The deal is worth $26 million over four years. He has recorded at least 100 tackles in the past two seasons with the Colts and played in all 32 games over that span. Bethea fills an immediate need at free-safety for the 49ers.
QB Blaine Gabbert
The San Francisco 49ers acquired Blaine Gabbert for a sixth-round draft pick today. The move will likely take the Niners out of the running for any of the free-agent quarterbacks that are out there. It is a somewhat confusing move as Gabbert comes with a contract that is valued a little bit more than his performance has warranted. Unless the Niners plan on maybe packaging Gabbert with something to get something else, the move doesn't really make sense to me. But Jim Harbaugh is a quarterback "savior," if you will, and may be able to bring out the best in Gabbert.
CB Eric Wright
In a move that was surprising to many, the 49ers re-signed cornerback Eric Wright to a one-year contract believed to be worth the veteran minimum. Wright goes from being a healthy scratch in last season's NFC Championship game to competing for a cornerback job with the Niners.
OT Jonathan Martin
Everyone knows the story of Martin after being involved one of the most bizarre cases ever seen in professional sports. Well that is supposedly all behind him and it is time for him to get back to football. Undoubtedly, it will be a distraction in the beginning, but if they can get past it, Martin will be able to show the skill and abilities that have made him a starting offensive lineman in the NFL. The Niners acquired Martin for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2015.
Tillman is 33 years old but has been one of the better cornerbacks in the league throughout his career. The ex-Chicago Bear finished last season with three interceptions, three forced fumbles and 41 tackles in just eight games. That marked the fourth consecutive season where Tillman recorded at least three interceptions. With two cornerbacks departing via free-agency in Rogers and Brown, getting one of the top available corners would not be a bad idea.
CB Brandon Browner
The 49ers and Seahawks have been swapping players for a few years now and Browner could be the next in line. Browner has been in trouble with PED's and was suspended for the last half of the 2013 NFL season. The NFL has lifted his indefinite suspension and he became a free-agent today. The defensive back may still have to serve a four-game suspension to start next season, but with his physical play and size Browner could be a good fit for the Niners secondary.
LB Brandon Spikes
Spikes is only 26 years old but is coming off of a PCL injury which he says is fully healed. The Patriots are not going to re-sign him and Spikes thinks that both sides could "benefit from a fresh start." Spikes is a good fill-in backer and a solid run-stopper that could be a key player in replacing Bowman until he gets back. When Bowman is back and healthy, Spikes could still be a contributor for the Niners defense going forward.
WR Golden Tate
Tate's deep ball ability and special teams prowess makes him an attractive player for the 49ers. They have been searching for a good return man since Ted Ginn departed, and his presence could also add a needed deep threat on the offensive side of the ball aside from Vernon Davis.
After a busy day one of free-agency for San Francisco, day two should bring more surprises. I mean the Niners got Blaine Gabbert, BLAINE FRIGGIN GABBERT! Wow! I don't know about you, but I can't wait for day two to begin.