The 49ers face some tough choices in NFL free agency in 2022, yet there’s a sizable reason why re-signing Jaquiski Tartt should be in their plans.
There are probably more arguments out there surrounding why the San Francisco 49ers should let veteran strong safety Jaquiski Tartt walk in NFL free agency this offseason instead of re-signing him.
With just over $5 million in available cap space in 2022, according to Over the Cap, general manager John Lynch doesn’t have a ton of wiggle room. And while a sizable amount could be added once the Niners make the anticipated move of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s fair to assume the financial priorities will go to extending other players like EDGE Nick Bosa or wide receiver Deebo Samuel.
Not Tartt, who’ll turn 30 years old by the time next season rolls around.
Tartt, unfortunately, will be remembered for two recent things: a nagging injury history and his dropped would-be interception in the NFC Championship game loss versus the Los Angeles Rams.
But those shouldn’t be grounds enough for San Francisco to want to move on. In fact, it might actually be in the team’s best interest to keep him around into next season.
Why 49ers should re-sign Jaquiski Tartt in NFL free agency
Last spring, in the wake of the 49ers selecting former USC safety Talanoa Hufanga in Round 5 of the NFL Draft, followed by the hype Hufanga understandably generated, the writing seemed to be on the wall for Tartt’s long-term future.
After all, Tartt had missed nine games the previous season with injuries, four the year before that and eight in 2018.
Yet there’s little denying the fact Tartt makes the Niners defense better. His chemistry with free safety Jimmie Ward, stemming from their days together at Davidson High School in Alabama, is evidence enough.
But the bigger kicker might simply be he’s the best option for San Francisco’s defense in the immediate future. Hufanga, while still promising and looking to make that next-level leap, was nevertheless still a notable liability in coverage, surrendering two touchdowns and a 114.1 passer rating on 24 targets during the regular season, all the while lacking the straight-line speed that’d translate into being a one- or a two-deep safety.
Tartt, despite being older, has that flexibility to rotate with Ward as a free safety if need be, and Tartt’s passer rating allowed was a substantially better 95.0.
For what it’s worth, Over the Cap valued Tartt’s 2021 performance at a value of $2.7 million, meaning even a one- or two-year deal at that rate in 2022 wouldn’t break the bank. The only concern would be Tartt’s injury history, yet the hope a player like Hufanga could continue with some much-needed development helps alleviate that to a point.
With the 49ers having other key areas of need to address this offseason, particularly at cornerback and the interior of the offensive line, simply retaining Tartt would solve a lot of issues.
Don’t automatically assume the Niners let him walk once NFL free agency begins.