49ers defensive end Justin Smith has yet to make a decision about whether or not he’ll return to the team for next season or end his playing career, and his decision could have a significant impact on another Niners defender, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. Maiocco observes that Aldon Smith, who is entering a contract year, often lines up on the same side of the field as the elder Smith, and benefits from the defensive end tying up pass blockers. If Justin Smith retires this offseason, it could have an effect on Aldon Smith’s earning potential as he enters a key year, says Maiocco.
Here’s more from around the NFL’s two West divisions:
- A league source tells NFL reporter Ross Tucker (Twitter link) that he thinks Peyton Manning may be in talks with the Broncos to restructure his contract in order to create cap room for the coming year. Reworking Manning’s deal could potentially create up to about $9MM in cap savings, which would give the club much more flexibility to re-sign key free agents like Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Terrance Knighton.
- Appearing on the Doug and Wolf show on Arizona Sports 98.7FM, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim confirmed that discussions are ongoing with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and that he’d like to have resolution on the issue in time for free agency (link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). According to Keim, the club is currently about $16MM over the cap — incidentally, the veteran wideout is owed an $8MM base salary and an $8MM roster bonus for 2015.
- Keim also touched on a few other topics during his radio appearance, including cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who is eligible for free agency. The GM had nothing but praise for Cromartie’s efforts in 2014, and said the Cardinals would “love” to bring him back.
- Former Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson, who is a close friend of Marshawn Lynch, would bet that the running back returns to Seattle for the 2015 season, but he admits that he doesn’t know that for sure, writes Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “I don’t think Marshawn knows yet,” Robinson said on 710 ESPN in Seattle. “I don’t know what a timeline is, guys. I would guess that Marshawn doesn’t even really know what a timeline is. Probably going to be a feel thing and we’ll just see like everybody else.”