Ditch: Defensive End Solomon Thomas
Speaking of defensive line depth, the 49ers should explore trading off their top pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, defensive end Solomon Thomas.
Thomas is merely a rotational player now, essentially justifying the notion he’s worked up only as far as being a decent asset on a deep team. Ahead of him are other talented defensive linemen, namely Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Dee Ford and Arik Armstead.
Armstead’s pending free-agent situation could change things a little bit, and more on that in a second. But the role Thomas is currently playing, essentially a fifth lineman in nickel formations, is nowhere near the worth of the $8.96 million he’ll receive in the fourth year of his rookie contract in 2020.
That’s 100 percent dead money, should the Niners let Thomas go outright.
Thomas could use a fresh start. He’s also a better run stopper than pass-rusher, too, and there are no shortage of salary cap-happy teams with enough to take a chance on a former first-round draft pick, who just didn’t pan out in his first location.
Plus, the added possibility of a fifth-year option gives an acquiring team even more flexibility.
The 49ers wouldn’t get much in return, of course. But they’d clear salary space, which could be used to extend a player like Buckner or re-sign a player like Armstead.