Mailbag: Boldin probably should have waited

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

MudaChainS from parts unknown writes: Mike, could you do a breakdown of what Anquan would have made through his first six years in the league had the Cards made him play out his rookie deal, then hit him with a restricted free agent tag with a first round tender and then slapped him with a franchise tag vs Boldin getting extended two years into his rookie deal?

I think you will find the results very interesting. Especially considering Boldin could have had a career-ending injury in his fourth year in the league. Huge fan and season ticket holder. Love the NFC West blog.

Mike Sando: Thanks, Muda. My kind of homework assignment.

To review, Boldin entered the NFL as a second-round choice in 2003. His rookie deal was set to expire after the 2006 season. The Cardinals renegotiated the deal before the 2005 season.

Boldin's four-year rookie deal was worth about $2.6 million. He would have graduated directly to unrestricted free agency had it matured, so there would have been no RFA tender (players need four accrued seasons to become unrestricted free agents if there is a salary cap and five in an uncapped year). The Cardinals could have named Boldin their franchise player for 2007 at a one-year price of $6.172 million.

Under that scenario, Boldin would have earned less than $8.8 million over the first five years of his career.

Thanks to the 2005 renegotiation, Boldin earned about $17 million over the first five years of his career. He earned another $2.5 million in salary last season. His deal pays $2.75 million in 2009 and $3 million in 2010. If forced to play out his deal, Boldin will have earned about $25 million in his first eight NFL seasons.

That sounds great until Boldin considers how much teammate Larry Fitzgerald is earning: $40 million over the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Former Redskins cap analyst Jimmy Halsell's latest post details the financial perils young players face when they renegotiate their contracts.

Rob from Sacramento writes: Mikey -- An interesting thought occurred to me when I was reading the Nate Davis interview summary you posted. I'm beginning to wonder if the 49ers' roster is big enough for both Shaun Hill and Alex Smith. After all, they already have the veteran backup (Huard) and the 3rd string development guy (Davis) who would (should) have been a 1st rounder if not for the paranoia about his learning disorder (Side question: If he could learn the playbook in college, does it not stand to reason he should be able to do so in the pros?).
Whoever wins the job will need to know that the team is behind him 100 percent. If Smith wins, the first time he throws a pick, the crowd will start screaming for Hill, and while Hill may get a little more leeway because of his record as a starter, he faces the same problem after his first bad game. I don't think it would be in the team's best interest if every time something goes wrong, the headlines start: "Is it time to start the other guy?"

It really makes me wonder if the loser for the starting job just becomes dead weight. Am I overthinking or is this something that the team might really do?

Mike Sando: I think it's worth raising as a potential scenario, but I question whether the 49ers could afford to release one of their two best quarterbacks. Shaun Hill and Alex Smith would be the two best quarterbacks if all goes to plan.

Damon Huard could provide insurance if injuries sideline Smith again, but there's less need for him if Hill and Smith play well through the summer.

The assumption that fifth-round quarterback Nate Davis will earn a spot on the 53-man roster appears sound. NFL teams drafted 19 quarterbacks in the fifth round from the 2000 through 2008 drafts. Eighteen earned opening-day spots on 53-man rosters as rookies. The Steelers' Omar Jacobs was an exception in 2006, the year Ben Roethlisberger opened on the bench following a motorcycle accident.

Steve writes via Facebook: [Dismissing Rams radio commentator Jim Hanifan is a] big mistake. We put the TV on mute and listen to the radio broadcast. Hanifan is blunt, but that's the old-school way of sports broadcasting. There is a huge uproar about this, and I expect radio management to make a change.
Mike Sando: I didn't know the Rams' youth movement applied to the booth. Hanifan is 75. He's an icon in St. Louis. His replacement, D'Marco Farr, feels grateful for the opportunity and bad about what's happening to Hanifan. Tough deal.

Rhyno_12thMan_ writes: Mike, is there any truth to the rumor of the Thomas Jones for Deion Branch trade?
Mike Sando: I've had several questions along these lines after our main NFL page carried a headline reading, "Rumors: T. Jones running from NY to Seattle."

Here are the facts:

Mike Lombardi of National Football Post wrote, "If I were working for the Seahawks, I would call the Jets about the availability of running back Thomas Jones."

Lombardi then explained why he thought this might be a good idea for the Seahawks. He noted that the Seahawks could have an "extra wideout" if Branch is healthy. And so he suggested possibly offering Branch to the Jets for Jones.

That's all. This was not a report about trade talks taking place. This was a former NFL exective making a suggestion based on his expertise.

Nothing in the works at this time, most likely.

By the way, Branch is scheduled to earn $4.94 million in salary this season. His contract counts $7.54 million against the cap if he remains on the roster. It counts $6.4 million if the Seahawks trade or release him. Jones' contract counts $2.5 million against the Jets' cap in 2009 if he remains on the roster and $3 million if the team trades or releases him.

The trade Lombardi proposed would be doable from a cap standpoint, in other words. I think it might help the Seahawks as well. I'm not sold on the team's depth at running back.