Matt Maiocco of NBCsportsbayarea.com explains the sticky details involved in negotiations between star defensive end Nick Bosa and the 49ers, who hope to sign him before its season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers (Sept. 10), but must consider the long-term consequences.
The next contract Nick Bosa signs with the 49ers will run through the prime years of his football career.
The clock is ticking on the 49ers and Bosa reaching a contract agreement that will assure his presence on the field Sunday, Sept. 10, when the team opens the 2023 NFL season at the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But this contract is not just about Week 1. It has long-term consequences for both sides. And that is why it is so important for the team and the player to get it right.
At 25, Bosa is coming off a 2022 season in which he registered 18.5 sacks and won NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Bosa and his representation do not want to leave any money on the table at a time with a rising salary cap and no guarantee there is another huge negotiation in his future.
Bosa will become the league’s highest-paid edge rusher.
He will make more than the $28 million-a-season average of Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt, who signed his lucrative contract two years ago this week.
Then, the question becomes whether Bosa will become the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL.
Should his contract eclipse Aaron Donald’s contract? Donald signed a shorter-term extension to keep him from retiring after the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl two years ago. Donald's deal pays him $31.67 million per season.
And if Bosa becomes the highest-paid non-quarterback, how much more than Donald should he receive?
Both sides want this contract done.
The weakest aspect of the 49ers as they open the season is their outside pass rush. Even with Bosa, there are plenty of questions about the options on the other side with Drake Jackson, Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant and Kerry Hyder.
Without Bosa, the 49ers’ defense could get picked apart.
So why doesn’t 49ers chief negotiator Paraag Marathe just hand Bosa a blank check?
The organization already has devoted long-term big-money contracts to players at nearly every level of their offense and defense.
Deebo Samuel, Trent Williams, Arik Armstead, Fred Warner, George Kittle, Javon Hargrave, Charvarius Ward, Christian McCaffrey and Brandon Aiyuk each are on the books to cost at least $14 million next season.
A year from now, the 49ers and Aiyuk hope to have a long-term extension agreed upon, too.
And, then, two years from now, there is the possibility that quarterback Brock Purdy will warrant the biggest contract of all.
Remember, this is the team that briefly made Jimmy Garoppolo the highest-paid player in the league after he played just five games for the 49ers in 2017.
Purdy’s contract cannot be touched until after the 2024 season. If the 49ers win a lot of games and Purdy plays at a high level the next two seasons, the organization will have to pay him at the going rate for quarterbacks.
For context purposes, Detroit’s Jared Goff is the 15th-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL at $33.5 million per season.
Both sides must balance what makes the most sense. The longer Bosa holds out, his chances decrease of back-to-back DPOY awards.
The 49ers also have to consider their three-year plan to manage the salary cap. And that means every dollar spent on Bosa makes for more difficult roster decisions down the road.
—Matt Maiocco, NBCsportsbayarea.com