With so many one-year contracts expiring, the 49ers simply won’t be entertained at bringing these five pending free agents back in 2022.
It was a small miracle the San Francisco 49ers weren’t hit with insane NFL free agency attrition heading into the 2021 season despite a large number of pending free agents and the shrunken salary cap this year because of the pandemic.
In a way, though, Niners general manager John Lynch proverbially “kicked the can” down the road a little bit by offering up a slew of cheap and team-friendly one-year contracts to a lot of his pending free agents, putting off the problem for at least one more season.
Heading into 2022, many of the same NFL free agency challenges will rise up again.
If there’s good news, San Francisco can expect the salary cap to bounce back up once more. According to Over the Cap, next year’s salary cap is predicted to be $208.2 million, a sizable increase from the current $182.5 million.
That said, a number of pending free agents certainly won’t be back and wearing a 49ers uniform next year, including these five players.
No. 5: 49ers Cornerback Jason Verrett
Veteran cornerback Jason Verrett was one of those players who returned on a team-friendly one-year deal after enjoying what was arguably his most productive season since his Pro Bowl 2015 campaign with the San Diego Chargers.
Thoroughly mixed in that period since, though, was Verrett’s injury history, 2020 essentially being the outlier, which somehow convinced the Niners he’d be worth another one-year flier heading into 2021.
Verrett’s season-ending torn ACL suffered in Week 1 emphasized two different things. For starters, Verrett unfortunately can’t shake the injury association, also having played just six regular-season games between 2016 and 2019, and San Francisco should be faulted for placing too much reliance on Verrett staying healthy once again.
The 49ers hope their two rookie corners, Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir, can both develop into long-term replacements. But even with their own struggles, along with the uncertainty of either panning out, the Niners aren’t going to take the same risk with Verrett as they did last offseason.
He’ll walk, even if Verrett only asks for the veteran’s minimum.