We heard last week that the 49ers could consider trading second-year linebacker Corey Lemonier, but according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports (via Twitter), San Francisco was actually shopping a different defender — outside ‘backer Ahmad Brooks. Per Glazer, the Browns were interested in acquiring the 30-year-old, but trade discussions ultimately fell through.
Brooks, a Virginia product, has been with the Niners since 2008. He was originally selected by the Bengals in the third round of the 2006 draft. In 84 games with San Francisco, Brooks has accrued 36 sacks, 184 tackles, and three interceptions. He’s having a subpar season in 2014, as Pro Football Focus (subscription required) grades him as the second-worst 3-4 outside linebacker in the league among 46 qualifiers, and rates him last in pass-rush productivity.
As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee writes, it makes sense that the 49ers would look to trade Brooks. The veteran is set to earn more than $19MM in base salaries over the next three seasons, and is due roster bonuses totaling more than $2.5MM. The club has Aaron Lynch and Dan Skuta, each of whom has garnered better PFF grades than Brooks, available to play OLB, with the aforementioned Lemonier behind them. Most notably, Aldon Smith will return from suspension next week, adding yet another pass-rushing element to the Niners’ front seven. Combine these factors with Brooks’ declining play, and it’s not surprising the team tried to move him.
For their part, the Browns were probably looking at Brooks as a half-year rental; I doubt they’d be interested in paying his large base salaries for any of the next three seasons, and they likely would have cut him before his 2015 $1.2MM roster bonus was due. Still, if the draft pick compensation San Francisco wanted was reasonable enough, Brooks could have been a nice addition to a Cleveland linebacking corps that includes Karlos Dansby, Paul Kruger, and Barkevious Mingo.