5:00pm: According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), the sense he’s gotten from talking to other teams is that the Niners probably won’t trade Boone, though that could change. Meanwhile, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets that if the team offers Boone a deal that pays him $15MM over the next three years, he’d likely sign it.
3:20pm: Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com offers some clarity on the conflicting reports on the Niners’ offer to Boone. Maiocco hears from sources that San Francisco is offering the guard an extension on his current deal, which wouldn’t kick in until 2016, rather than tearing up the current contract and negotiating a new one. So the extension which starts in ’16 may have a top-12 annual value, but Boone would still be underpaid for the next two seasons.
2:47pm: According to Bill Williamson of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the Niners’ most recent offer to Boone wouldn’t have even made him a top-25 highest-paid guard, let alone top 12.
2:34pm: A source tells Getlin (Twitter link) that it isn’t true that Boone declined a contract offer that would have made him one of the league’s 12 highest-paid guards, though Ian Rapoport of NFL.com backs up Brandt’s report (via Twitter). I’m guessing the offer is structured in such a way that there’s a dispute about whether it’s actually a top-12 value — perhaps it includes incentives that must be met, or minimal guarantees. That’s just my speculation though.
2:09pm: The 49ers have made Alex Boone a contract offer that would have made him one of the top 12 highest-paid guards in the league, but the veteran offensive lineman turned it down, reports Gil Brandt of NFL.com (via Twitter). With the two sides still at an impasse, a trade is looking like an increasingly plausible scenario, and Boone’s trade value is on the rise as injuries begin to pile up around the league, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, who says the market for the 49ers guard “continues to increase” (Twitter link). Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports agrees, tweeting that the longer Boone holds out, the more valuable he becomes.
Boone, the Niners’ starting right guard in each of the last two seasons, is in line for a $2MM base salary this season and just $1.2MM in 2015, but is now subject to about $900K in fines, as Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News detailed last week. Having been an instrumental part of one of the league’s best offensive lines in recent years, the 27-year-old is looking for a raise to a level that more accurately reflects his talent.
Currently, Boone ranks as the 43rd-highest-paid guard in the NFL, so the offer reported by Brandt sounds reasonable, though the structure and level of guarantee in that proposal aren’t known. As Over the Cap’s data shows, the 12th highest-paid guard in the NFL is currently Evan Mathis, at $5.1MM per year, so presumably San Francisco’s offer to Boone exceeded that figure. However, Mathis and the players around him on that list only received modest $5-6MM guarantees — Boone may be seeking a guarantee more in line with the $9-11MM received by 2014 free agents like Zane Beadles and Rodger Saffold.
While San Francisco’s offensive line could certainly use Boone, the team has a good deal of depth up front, and may have to prioritize extensions for other key players over a new deal for the former Ohio State Buckeye. If Boone doesn’t relent in his demands, moving him in a trade for a future draft pick may be in the 49ers’ best interests. I’d be surprised if the Niners are able to land a pick in the top 60, considering Boone’s new team would also face the cost of a new contract, but a third-rounder could be within reach.
If the Niners do move Boone, there are plenty of clubs that would make sense as fits. The Buccaneers and Giants have been cited as potential suitors, and I’d suggest Indianapolis and Miami are among the other logical landing spots. Even teams seeking a tackle, like perhaps the Falcons, who lost Sam Baker to a season-ending injury, could kick the tires on Boone, who has experience at multiple positions.