After an offseason that saw many notable defensive players depart from San Francisco via free agency, retirement, or as a result of legal issues, another veteran defender is no longer a Niner. This time, however, it appears to have been the team’s decision. According to Pro Football Talk (via Twitter), the 49ers have released defensive lineman Darnell Dockett.
Dockett, 34, was sidelined for the entire 2014 campaign due to an ACL tear. In 2013, the former third-round pick started all 16 games for the Cards, logging 46 tackles and 4.5 sacks. However, Dockett’s cap number for 2015 was nearly $10MM, which forced the Cards to cut him earlier this year, at which point their NFC West rivals in San Francisco snatched up the three-time Pro Bowler.
In addition to recovering from that ACL tear, Dockett also battled a rib contusion during the preseason, and appears to have become expendable in San Francisco, where the Niners have Tank Carradine, Tony Jerod-Eddie and first-round draft pick Arik Armstead competing for playing time behind the starters.
A $2MM chunk of Dockett’s salary for 2015 was guaranteed, and he also earned a $500K workout bonus, to the 49ers will be on the hook for $2.5MM in dead money. However, by releasing him now, the team avoids paying him a $250K roster bonus, which he would have earned had he been on the Niners’ Week 1 roster.
With Dockett set to hit the open market again, it’ll be worth keeping an eye on the Cardinals to see if his old team is interested in a reunion.