The 49ers made the re-signing of safety Jimmie Ward official Tuesday. A day later, it was revealed that he reportedly turned down a larger offer in free agency in order to stay with the only NFL franchise he has ever been a part of.
In breaking down the opening wave of free agency and its effect on each of the 32 NFL teams Wednesday, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported that Ward took a small discount in order to remain with San Francisco.
"Their plan was all about sustaining excellence, and it worked out about as well as expected," Fowler wrote of the 49ers. "Defensive end Arik Armstead's five-year deal cost $48.5 million in guarantees, but the team got a slight discount on safety Jimmie Ward, who had a $10 million per year offer from another team -- Las Vegas was believed to be interested in him -- yet signed with San Francisco for $9.5 million annually out of familiarity."
While Fowler stopped short of definitively naming the Raiders as the team that offered Ward $10 million per season, the suggestion isn't all that shocking. They've overhauled their defense in free agency, and safety was known to be a need for Las Vegas. The day after news broke that Ward and the 49ers had agreed to a three-year contract extension, the Raiders agreed to a two-year contract with safety Jeff Heath, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys.
Given that the 49ers and Raiders played in the same market until extremely recently, it stands to reason that Jon Gruden and Co. would be very familiar with Ward, who has been with San Francisco ever since being selected with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
While the discount Ward reportedly took is only a $500,000 difference, every little bit helps the 49ers, particularly with a record-breaking extension for tight end George Kittle still hanging over their heads.