Lions' Everson Griffen trade should have 49ers kicking themselves

Brian Witt
·2 min read

49ers should have met Cowboys' measly asking price for Griffen originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 49ers did not trade for Dallas Cowboys edge rusher Everson Griffen, but they definitely should have.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that the Detroit Lions acquired Griffen from the Cowboys in exchange for a conditional 2021 sixth-round draft pick. For that minuscule price, the 49ers should be -- and probably will end up -- kicking themselves.

In trading for Griffen, the Lions are on the hook for his remaining salary, which comes out to around $3 million. While that clearly was a hurdle for the 49ers, it should have been one they found a way to get over.

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As of Tuesday morning, San Francisco had just over $2.7 million in remaining cap space. That wouldn't have been enough to absorb Griffen's remaining salary, but it's obviously quite close. The 49ers have options at their disposal to create more cap space, if they want to go down that route. Cutting seldom-used receiver Dante Pettis, for instance, would have created an additional $378,000 in cap space.

Assuming the 49ers would have been able to make it work from a financial standpoint -- and they could have -- the draft compensation certainly shouldn't have proven prohibitive. The conditional sixth-round pick the Cowboys received from the Lions likely will land somewhere between five and 10 selections in front of the seventh-round pick the 49ers just acquired from the New York Jets in the Jordan Willis trade.

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And, speaking of Willis, the 49ers think he'll be able to thrive in their system, but it's no sure thing. If he doesn't pan out, it will not have cost them much at all in terms of acquisition cost, but it could be devastating to a pass rush desperately in need of more pressure off the edge. Griffen could have provided that, and been someone the 49ers could have far more confidence in.

All for a measly conditional sixth-round pick.