No. 4: 49ers Nose Tackle D.J. Jones
Again, these are tough decisions. But tough decisions done correctly are what define good teams. The Niners are hoping to maintain their ways of being a good team for many years.
Losing nose tackle D.J. Jones would hurt, yes, especially after he enjoyed a career-best season in 2019 in which he recorded two sacks and 23 tackles in primarily base downs. For a player selected in Round 6 of the 2017 draft, that’s an absolute steal.
Especially considering Jones’ abilities to shut down the interior of the line.
The problem, though, is run-stuffing interior linemen are a relatively easy commodity to find, both in NFL free agency and the draft. While it’s possible Jones doesn’t ask for top dollar on the open market, and one shouldn’t automatically rule out a return based off cost alone, there’s a stronger chance San Francisco will have cheaper options available in 2021.
Particularly if Jones enjoys yet another highly productive season this year.
Jones has done a lot for the 49ers defense, but his production should be sourced elsewhere for a more modest would-be cost.