In an article I wrote last week, I began to examine some of the 10 unrestricted free agents on the San Francisco 49ers roster. One of those players I placed on a list of those likely to come back if all things fall into place is safety Donte Whitner. While from afar it would appear that there is little reason for me to have listed Whitner in that particular category, the fact of the matter is that when you examine it closely re-signing Whitner becomes less likely to happen.
Whitner enters the 2014 offseason as a 28-year-old who will be 29 come Week 1 of the 2014 NFL season, and as a result this means he enters in his playing prime. This alone is nothing new as many of the players set to be free agents this upcoming offseason will be in their prime playing years and looking to get that one last big contract before their respective career arc begins to trend downward.
The idea of signing that big deal with a sizable signing bonus is where one can begin to understand why it’s possible Whitner may not be a 49er come the start of the 2014 season. Whitner’s play over the last three years has been at a level where he can be mentioned as one of the 10 best safeties in the league. With that in mind, Whitner will certainly be a player several teams looking to fortify and strengthen their secondaries will be anxious to land.
I have no doubt Whinter will command a multiyear deal with a sizable signing bonus, and while the 49ers could go the franchise tag route in order to keep Whinter, it would make little sense for the 49ers to take that strategy given that I just don’t see the will to sign Whitner to such a big multiyear deal. Given that there are other unrestricted free agents on the 49ers roster more valuable and young core players the 49ers should extend this offseason, bringing back Whitner makes little sense nor should it be a priority for them if it’s not on their terms.