The 49ers traded for Chase Young, but he's a free agent in 2024 and essentially a half-year rental. Unless the Niners figure out a way to re-sign him, of course.
In a perfect world, the San Francisco 49ers would love nothing more than to pair the most expensive non-quarterback in NFL history, defensive end Nick Bosa, with his collegiate teammate and also-former No. 2 overall draft pick, Chase Young for the long haul after the Niners executed a deadline-deal blockbuster with the Washington Commanders.
One of the reasons the trade was so cheap from San Francisco's perspective -- a mere compensatory third-round pick for one of the league's more prolific pass-rushers -- is because Young is scheduled to hit free agency in 2024.
Even though Young has an extensive injury history and five sacks through seven games played, he's still in line for quite a hefty payday once next season rolls around.
The 49ers don't have to re-sign him, of course. In all likelihood, whatever deal he earns on the open market will result in the Niners getting a third-round compensatory selection back, essentially meaning Young plays for them for half a season at the expense of delaying a comp pick for one year.
But, what if San Francisco had the means to re-sign the 24 year old, helping form one of the most prolific one-two pass-rushing duos in the league right now? Could the 49ers even afford it?
Can 49ers afford to re-sign Chase Young in 2024?
Young is costing the Niners less than $1 million this season, as the Commanders are absorbing the bulk of his remaining salary.
As such, San Francisco is hoping to roll over as much of its remaining $39.85 million in cap space, per Over the Cap, into next year. And general manager John Lynch will need every penny, as the 49ers are projected to be barely under the cap by less than $1.5 million. And that includes OTC's projection of the cap increasing up to $256 million in 2024.
Young will likely be seeking a four-year deal in his first year of free agency but might have to settle for a three-year offer, based on his injury history between 2021 and 2022 that limited him to just 12 regular-season games played.
Even so, Young will probably want to take home at least $16 million per year for a cost of up to $48 million over the life of the contract, perhaps $20 of which would be fully guaranteed.
Can the 49ers afford that?
Provided the Niners stick with quarterback Brock Purdy, playing out his extremely cheap rookie contract, 2024 isn't an issue. But Purdy would likely expect a significant raise on an extension in 2025, the last year of his four-year rookie deal.
Per OTC, San Francisco is expected to have just $45.9 million in cap space that year, which is 31st least in the league and also points to the strong likelihood that the 49ers wouldn't retain wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and would probably make someone like left tackle Trent Williams or even tight end George Kittle a cap casualty.
Tough question. But doable, should the Niners see that as the direction.