We heard towards the end of 2018 that the 49ers and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner would be discussing an extension this offseason. After all, now that the 2016 first-round pick has three years of service time, he is eligible for a new contract, and he appears to be coming into his own after a breakout 2018 campaign.
But Matt Barrows of The Athletic (subscription required) says it’s unlikely that the two sides agree to a new deal before the season begins. Buckner’s standard four-year rookie contract keeps him under club control at a bargain salary of $720K this year, and San Francisco will soon pick up his fifth-year option that ties him to the club through 2020. It’s unclear whether Buckner or the team chose to table an extension for the time being, but speculatively, it could be that Buckner wants to put together a 2019 season that builds on his 2018 production and further enhances his value before he and his agent get serious about a new deal.
Buckner himself said, “We’ve had conversations here and there. Honestly, it’s very early. Just because I’m eligible for a new contract going into my fourth year, it’s still very early in the process.”
Buckner’s ability to generate pressure from the interior of the defensive line will make him a highly-desirable commodity should he ever hit the open market, and if he produces another double-digit sack season — he posted 12 sacks in 2018, the first time he recorded double-figures — he will almost certainly land a contract paying him over $20MM per season, whether that comes from the 49ers or from some other club. His abilities as a run stopper will only increase his asking price.
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