49ers can easily navigate Raheem Mostert trade request

Raheem Mostert #31 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Raheem Mostert #31 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The 49ers don’t have to give into Raheem Mostert and his trade request, and there’s a way to make both parties happy.

It’s not great news, but San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert apparently wants out from head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad.

This, according to a Wednesday announcement from Mostert’s agent, Brett Tessler:

"After months of unproductive talks with the 49ers about fairly adjusting Raheem Mostert’s contract (which paid him for special teams) we have requested a trade. Disappointing that it would come to this for a guy who led all NFL RBs in YPC & helped lead them to the Super Bowl."

For starters, the Niners hold all the cards here and don’t have to budge one bit. Prior to his breakout 2019 campaign with San Francisco, Mostert was a journeyman tailback mostly known for his special teams work, never having accumulated more than 30 yards before sniffing the surface of his possibilities in 2018 before suffering a season-ending arm injury that year.

But those modest efforts in 2018 earned Mostert a three-year contract worth up to $8.65 million.

According to a clarification from Tessler to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Mostert wants to be paid around what the top-paid running backs on the 49ers roster are receiving. The player compared was running back Tevin Coleman, who’ll earn $4.55 million in 2020.

Coleman netted 724 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns, while Mostert accumulated 952 net yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019. So on the surface, it would appear fair Mostert should get paid more.

Still, the sample size is awfully small. Mostert’s one-year breakout, combined with the fact he’s now 28 years old, doesn’t bode well for him long term. And neither does the fact Shanahan’s offense predicates a running back-by-committee approach.

So, if the Niners wanted to, they could sit back and say “absolutely not” with regards to Mostert’s trade request or salary demands.

But there’s a simple way to make it work without too much effort.

How 49ers can make Raheem Mostert happy

One of the less-discussed elements stemming from Wednesday’s news was another conversation Tessler had with The Athletic’s David Lombardi, in which Tessler clarified “Mostert is looking for more security than his current deal.”

And when you look at the numbers behind Mostert’s contract, it makes sense.

Mostert has zero in guaranteed money remaining on his deal. Even the most elementary contract analysis can tell you things get weird and difficult for players with no guaranteed cash left on contracts. It’s one of the primary reasons why San Francisco so easily moved on from their former starting right guard, Mike Person, this offseason.

If he hits all his marks in 2020, Mostert would earn $3,158,333, while his 2021 numbers would be worth up to $3,508,334.

Again, nothing guaranteed.

Based on Lombardi’s report, it sounds as if Mostert wants more on the guaranteed side of things rather than just a sheer net increase in salary. Coleman currently has $2 million guaranteed for 2020, and this notion would be to convert a portion of Mostert’s salary this season into a guarantee.

Without pretending to be a contract expert here, converting $2 million of Mostert’s 2020 salary into a prorated signing bonus would give him some of that security over the next two years, boasting $1 million guaranteed for both 2020 and 2021.

That’s not a ton of money, from a contracts perspective, to squabble over, and the Niners wouldn’t be taking a bigger hit than what they otherwise would have if Mostert plays under the full terms of his contract.

Predicting 49ers running back depth chart in 2020. dark. Next

There are obstacles, and the 49ers likely broached this idea already. But if they want to address the situation quickly and simply, this should be the way to go.