The 49ers were the first team to agree to terms with an inside linebacker during the early free agency negotiating period and it included a hefty price tag. Now that a few other agreements have followed, and details of the contract have emerged, it might not seem as outrageous as it once did.
It’s similar to when you’re the first one to jump into the pool, and then everyone else follows. The water wasn’t really as cold as everyone originally thought.
It might have seemed exorbitant for the 49ers to agree to pay former Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander $54 million over four years with $27 million guaranteed. The 49ers, however, have contract specialist Paraag Marathe working the numbers, and gave themselves plenty of room for an out, if necessary.
Much of Alexander’s contract is incentive-based, with the only guaranteed money beyond 2019 being for injury, according to figures obtained by overthecap.com. There are also roster bonuses set into the contract to reduce cap hits if the team does decide to cut him. The contract includes $14.25 million in guaranteed money, an $8.5 million roster bonus and a base salary of $1.75 million for 2019.
The reported terms for former Ravens' C.J. Mosley and former Eagles' Jordan Hicks, show that the overall agreement for Alexander is what the market would bear.
Hicks reportedly agreed to $36 million over four years with $20 million guaranteed with the Cardinals. He played in 43 games over his four seasons with the Eagles, registering seven interceptions, one forced fumble and five sacks. He registered 254 total tackles, 180 of those were solo.
Mosley was projected as the top free agent inside linebacker of 2019. He agreed to a whopping $85 million over five years with $51 million guaranteed with the Jets.
Mosley started in all 77 games he appeared in over his five-year stint with the Ravens. He recorded nine interceptions, six forced fumbles and eight and-a-half sacks. Of his 597 total tackles, 398 were solo.
Alexander started in all 46 games he appeared in while he was a Buccaneer. He registered six interceptions, six forced fumbles and seven sacks during that time and 271 of his 380 tackles were solo.
A player is, of course, more than the above listed stats, but they do offer a comparison. There is also the additional detail that Alexander is coming off of season-ending ACL surgery that was performed in late October.
The 49ers have taken a risk in the agreement with Alexander, not knowing how he will perform returning from injury, but it is clearly not as extreme as originally thought.
**It should be noted that reported guaranteed amounts released before the contracts are signed could be slightly inaccurate.