No. 1: 49ers EDGE Dee Ford
At some point, the Niners are going to have to dish out big money to their best defensive player, EDGE Nick Bosa. He’s the team’s top pass-rusher, without question. And while it’s a luxury to boast two elite-level pass-rushers, the other being Dee Ford, keeping both around for the long run isn’t going to be something San Francisco’s brass can maintain forever.
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Especially considering Ford’s injury history. He played in only 11 regular-season games last year and saw the field for just over 22 percent of defensive snaps in 2019.
Ford’s health is vital for the team’s chances this season, yes. And it’s ideal to have two top pass-rushers, too. But with the 49ers inking defensive tackle Arik Armstead to a new deal this offseason, keeping Ford around beyond this upcoming season simply isn’t feasible.
Again, there’s no guaranteed money on Ford’s contract in 2021, 2022 and 2023, which helps from a financial standpoint. Cutting him before June 1 would also generate $12.8 million in cap space against $4.8 million in dead money.
While it would be tempting to wait until June 1 to do it, freeing up $16 million in total, the Niners may not be in position to wait that long.
Especially if a player like George Kittle is potentially going to hit the open market as an alternative.
Regardless, San Francisco is going to face some tough cap situations heading into 2021, and it’s likely that year’s team winds up looking noticeably different than the one taking the field this upcoming season.