Trade No. 1: Defensive Back Jimmie Ward to the Colts
The 49ers have a bit of a conundrum on their hands with fifth-year defensive back Jimmie Ward. On one hand, he’s an extremely versatile player, capable of playing both boundary and nickel cornerback spots as well as doubling as a safety.
San Francisco 49ers
Ward, San Francisco’s Round 1 selection from the 2014 NFL Draft, hasn’t fared well this preseason at all, however. And with a history of injury, it was a bit of a shock to see the Niners pick up his fifth-year option, which includes over $8.5 million in fully guaranteed money for 2018.
He’s currently the highest-paid player on the 49ers defense and doesn’t project to have a starting role this season.
The 49ers would be hard-pressed to find a suitor willing to take on Ward’s contract. But the Indianapolis Colts have both a swath of cap space (over $51 million, currently) and glaring needs all over their secondary. In fact, Pro Football Focus ranked Indy’s defensive backfield dead last in their pre-2018 rankings.
San Francisco wouldn’t get much in return. Using Eli Harold’s deal as a bar, though, the Niners could use Ward’s versatility as leverage in upping the return value to a 2019 conditional sixth-round draft pick. If Ward doesn’t land on injured reserve (something he’s done in three of his first four seasons at the pro level), that pick becomes a Round 5 choice.
The Colts get some much-needed help for their secondary, while the Niners free up a roster spot and clear $8-plus million off their 2018 books.
Would you do it, 49ers fans?