Myles Garrett's reportedly pending contract extension with the Cleveland Browns drove home just how expensive edge rushers are.
Now, imagine trying to pay two elite players at that position.
That's what the 49ers would have to do in order to make the Bosa family's dreams come true by pairing Nick with older brother Joey, who currently plays for the Los Angeles Chargers. Although the elder Bosa could become an unrestricted free agent after this season, it's hard to see how San Francisco makes the money work to reunite the brothers.
"[There] would have to be some major sacrifices made by the Bosa family," NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco explained on the latest episode of the "49ers Inisder Podcast," "and I just don't know that it's doable because [they] are elite players at premium positions, and those guys get paid big-time money."
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Joey Bosa recorded 11.5 sacks in 2019, finishing one shy of matching his career high. Only seven active players have more sacks than Bosa (40.5) since the start of the 2016 season, and he has played at least nine fewer games than every player with more. As Garrett's rumored extension shows, that kind of production won't come cheap on the free-agent market.
But the younger Bosa still has three more seasons left on his rookie contract before (potentially) playing on a fifth-year option. The 49ers conceivably could use that to their advantage, splurging on Joey while paying Nick no more than $5.1 million in base salary during the first two years of the hypothetical deal his older brother would sign to join San Francisco.
That ignores the rest of the players the 49ers would need to pay, though. The 49ers are set to have nearly $45 million in cap space next offseason, according to Over the Cap, but they likely will have much less than that when the calendar turns to 2021.
George Kittle's contract extension could be on the books by then, and a huge chunk of the 49ers' secondary can become free agents next offseason. Exercising Nick Bosa's fifth-year option would make him one of the highest-paid edge rushers in the league, assuming he maintains his rookie-year production, and signing him to a new deal could make him the highest-paid player at his position. Arik Armstead also will count for more money against the salary cap in each of the next four seasons, and it's not yet clear what long-term effects the coronavirus pandemic will have on the NFL's salary cap.
The 49ers can create some space by cutting ties with Dee Ford, who would account for $4.8 million in dead money if he was released ahead of the 2021 season. That figure would represent savings of nearly $13 million in 2021 and almost $14 million in 2022 and 2023. That's money the 49ers, who've structured their roster based upon having two dominant edge rushers, could direct towards signing Joey Bosa. It's feasible the 49ers could use some of the money they would pay Ford to pay the elder Bosa, but they very likely would spend more money on edge rushers with both Bosas in tow rather than playing Ford alongside Nick Bosa.
"I just don't think it would take a Dee Ford salary to attract Joey Bosa," Maiocco explained. "I think it would take a Joey Bosa salary to attract Joey Bosa."
If both Joey and Nick Bosa want to be paid like Myles Garrett, it's difficult to envision that happening with both brothers on the 49ers.
"It's certainly fun to talk about, and I could see where the Bosas would love to make that work," Maiocco said. "I just don't know if the 49ers could make it work."