The 49ers clinched the NFC West title for the first time since 2019 when they beat the Seahawks on Thursday of Week 15. And unlike last year, they are the only California team in the division that will be head to the playoffs after the Rams’ Monday Night Football loss eliminated them from any chase to repeat last year’s title.
Looking ahead, the division has some big decisions to make as some of the most notable play callers from this season enter free agency. Each team has seen some movement at quarterback this year thanks to some unlucky injuries, but surprising performances from backups like ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ Brock Purdy have made the storylines all the more important to follow this offseason. (We’re including the Seahawks in that group after Geno Smith beat out Drew Lock for the starting job this summer.)
Let’s take a look at the salary cap totals and free agent classes for the 49ers, Seahawks, Rams and Cardinals:
Note: All salary cap numbers used are according to Spotrac and are subject to change after publication.
What to know: For the 49ers, it’s the quarterback position that brings about the biggest free agency decision to make. The Niners have been reported to still, despite injury, be firmly committed to Trey Lance as their QB in 2023, but Garoppolo sure made a good case for himself before he also was injured. And throw Brock Purdy’s surprise success into the mix, and the discussion regarding play callers in San Francisco only gets more interesting.
2022 cap space status: $4,651,481
2023 cap space status: $13,508,847
2023 free agents: Jimmie Ward, S; Jimmy Garoppolo, QB; Samson Ebukam, DL; Emmanuel Moseley, CB; Mike McGlinchey, RT; Azeez Al-Shaair, LB; Robbie Gould, K; Daniel Brunskill, RG; Hassan Ridgeway, DL; Kerry Hyder, DL; Tyler Kroft, TE; Josh Johnson, QB; Tashaun Gipson, S; Maurice Hurst, DL; Taybor Pepper, LS; Jason Verrett, CB; T.Y. McGill, DL; Ross Dwelley, TE; Jodan Willis, DL; Jordan Matthews, WR; Jake Brendel, C; Colton McKivitz, LT; Kevin Givens, DL; Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, LB; Tarvarius Moore, S; Curtis Robinson, LB; Jauan Jennings, WR; Charles Omenihu, DL; Dontae Johnson, CB
What to know: With the way Geno Smith has been playing this year, the Seahawks should be looking to keep him around for 2023; contract talks with the quarterback will be one of the biggest storylines for Seattle (projected to be in the top five in the league for 2023 cap space) this offseason.
2022 cap space status: $1,577,878
2023 cap space status: $50,930,151
2023 free agents: Johnathan Abram, S; Poona Ford, DL; Rashaad Penny, RB; Austin Blythe, C; Jason Myers, K; Geno Smith, QB; L.J. Collier, DL; Phil Haynes, LG; Nick Bellore, LB; Artie Burns, CB; Drew Lock, QB; Marquise Goodwin, WR; Kyler Fuller, LG; Justin Coleman, CB; Bruce Irvin, DL; Tyler Ott, LS; Josh Jones, S; Ryan Neal, S; Carson Tinker, LS; Cullen Gillaspia, RB; Teez Tabor, CB; Cody Barton, LB; Tanner Muse, LB; Penny Hart, WR; Jon Rhattigan, LB; Michael Jackson Sr., CB; Cody Thompson, WR; Tony Jones, RB; Ben Burr-Kirven, LB; Myles Adams, DL; Travis Homer, RB; Darryl Johnson Jr., DL
What to know: J.J. Watt is the big one in the Cardinals’ 2023 class as he becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season. He’s had an interesting run after being released by the Texans in 2021 and then (out of nowhere) announcing his signing with the Cardinals. Fans can only hope his free agency moves are as unpredictable this year.
2022 cap space status: $2,880,747
2023 cap space status: $23,892,594
2023 free agents: J.J. Watt, DL; Justin Pugh, LG; A.J. Green, WR; Matt Prater, K; Kelvin Beachum, RT; Byron Murphy, CB; Cody Ford, RG; Nick Vigil, LB; Tanner Vallejo, LB; Zeke Turner, LB; Andy Lee, P; Trysten Hill, DL; Will Hernandez, RG; Charles Washington, S; Antonio Hamilton, CB; Darrel Williams, RB; Stephen Anderson, TE; Aaron Brewer, LS; Chris Banjo, S; Max Garcia, LG; Zach Allen, DL; Ben Niemann, LB; Kamu Grugier-Hill, LB; Billy Price, C; Corey Clement, RB; Rashaad Coward, RT; Trace McSorley, QB; Sean Harlow, C; Greg Dortch, WR; Antoine Wesley, WR; Wyatt Davis, LG; Jonathan Ledbetter, DL; Joshua Miles, RT; Antwaun Woods, DL; Lachavious Simmons, RG
What to know: The Baker Mayfield storyline is one to watch after he was released from the Panthers, signed with the Rams and two days later led them to a last-minute win in Week 14.
2022 cap space status: $2,720,288
2023 cap space status: $3,550,105
2023 free agents: Baker Mayfield, QB; A’Shawn Robinson, DL; Troy Hill, CB; Matt Gay, K; Taylor Rapp, S; Ty Nsekhe, LT; Oday Aboushi, LG; Brandon Powell, WR; Riley Dixon, P; Matt Skura, C; Grant Haley, CB; David Long, CB; Matt Orzech, LS; Chandler Brewer, LG; Travin Howard, LB; John Wolford, WR; Bobby Evans, RG; Jacob Harris, WR; Greg Gaines, DL; Michael Hoecht, DL; Marquise Copeland, DL; Bryce Perkins, QB; Christian Rozeboom, LB; Shaun Jolly, CB; David Edwards, LG; Nick Scott, S
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