49ers free agents: Defense
Clelin Ferrell, EDGE ($2,500,000):
Clelin Ferrell is the latest reclamation project at the position, and the former No. 4 overall pick has been more than acceptable as a backup EDGE.
Ferrell has 2.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and ten quarterback hits for the season. The team would like as much depth as possible and $2.5 million is a reasonable price. Could the 49ers lock him in for two?
Verdict: Extend for two years at $6 million, $3.5 million guaranteed.
Chase Young, EDGE ($8,640,899):
The marquee member of the 49ers free-agent class, Chase Young has been much more of an impact than his two sacks for the team so far would indicate on paper. The defense has looked much different since he joined the team from the Washington Commanders for a mere third-round compensatory pick.
Spotrac has a predicted market value for Young, and are predicting he will be extended for two years and $27,363,398 (for the duration, not per year).
The 49ers have a decision to make. Either let him walk and recoup the third-round compensatory pick, or try to find a way to fit into the salary cap. It might be a bridge too far if it's anywhere near the predicted number though, and needs some wizardry from Executive Vice President of Football Operations Paraag Marathe to be feasible.
Verdict: Let him walk and get the compensatory pick, unless Paraag Marathe can find a way to fit him in
Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Tackle ($3,872,173):
The more jaded 49ers fan will say that defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw is finally showing his first-round potential now he's in a contract year, but truthfully it simply helps that he's finally healthy in his career.
Kinlaw has thrived in 2023 and is on a good streak with 3.5 sacks, four tackles for loss and four QB hits in his last three games for San Francisco.
Spotrac is predicting his next contract to be for two years and $10,805,128 total, or around $5.4 million per season. Maybe the 49ers can tempt him with an incentive-based deal, but Kinlaw might look to find a starting role somewhere in the league.
Verdict: Let him walk or extend for three years at $14.5 million, $8 million guaranteed
Kevin Givens, Defensive Tackle ($2,100,000):
Kevin Givens is not a starting-caliber defensive tackle in the NFL, but he's a more than acceptable backup who can be a spot starter if needed.
Givens has 1.5 sacks, three tackles for loss and three QB hits for the season. These are more than acceptable numbers and the team should welcome him back for 2024.
Verdict: Extend for one year at $2.5 million, $2 million guaranteed
Oren Burks, Linebacker ($2,500,000):
Oren Burks doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves in the 49ers scheme. The third linebacker on base downs and a relentless special teamer, he should be brought back and hopefully won't be lured by other teams.
Verdict: Extend for three years at $9 million, $6 million guaranteed
Demetrious Flannigan-Fowles, Linebacker ($1,885,000):
Demetrious Flannigan-Fowles is in an awkward situation given he isn't as good on special teams as Burks, and like the tight ends, there are two rookies who are looking for bigger roles in 2024 and beyond.
Might be better to get the cap space.
Terrance Mitchell, Cornerback ($500,000):
Signed for some needed secondary depth, Terrance Mitchell would just be a camp body at best in 2024.
Tashaun Gipson, Safety ($2,900,000):
A pleasant surprise these past two seasons, Tashaun Gipson feels like he's nearing the end of his 49ers tenure. He's mulled retirement in the past, and Ji'Ayir Brown will almost definitely be partnering Talanoa Hufanga for 2024 and beyond.
The one caveat is maybe the 49ers can convince Gipson to take a mentor backup role to the young safety tandem and take a pay cut to chase a ring. Otherwise, this is nearly $3 million that needs saving.
Verdict: Cut/retire, unless he agrees to take a one-year extension at the veteran minimum