No. 3: 49ers trade Raheem Mostert, picks for Julio Jones
Ideally, teams trade from positions of excess for positions of need. And in the 49ers’ case, they have five rostered running backs: rookies Trey Sermon and Elijah Mitchell, JaMycal Hasty, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Raheem Mostert.
Mostert, 29 years old, is entering the final year of his current contract. While the Falcons likely wouldn’t entertain the idea of trading for an aging veteran with one year remaining on his deal, particularly with Mostert’s recent injury history, putting him into part of a trade package would help lessen the asking price the Niners would otherwise have to pay in pure draft capital.
Plus, doing so would save San Francisco over $3 million in cap space against just over $458,000 in dead money.
That savings would help keep the Niners comfortably above the cap threshold in 2021.
A straight Mostert-for-Julio Jones alone trade would be laughable from Atlanta’s part, though, so something along these lines would probably be necessary:
Remember, the 49ers are without first-round picks the next two years, and there’s always a dramatic fall from first- to second-round selections. Plus, if the team is expected to be in the playoff hunt, those picks are going to be late in each round anyway.
A potential long-term problem with this is the Niners would be casting away chances to land still-good prospects while holding them on cheap rookie contracts for the four years after being drafted. That’s the less-told element of trading away draft capital, even though proven NFL talent is always more valuable than unproven prospects.
Besides, the Falcons would probably want a younger, more up-and-coming player in return anyway, which leads us to our next trade scenario.