Both teams risked losing valued players in free agency. Both wound up striking deals anyway -- and on the first day of NFL free agency.
San Francisco 49ers
Red Bryant's return to Seattle bolsters the Seahawks' run defense. Carlos Rogers' return to San Francisco initially appeared tenuous as the 49ers pursued others at the position, but the sides reached agreement Tuesday night -- a big step in sustaining gains made in coverage.
Bryant and Rogers both received significant raises. Both also signed for considerably less per year than the franchise tags would have required at their respective positions.
Rogers, 30, picked off six passes while earning Pro Bowl honors for the 49ers. The 49ers gave Rogers the freedom to jump routes in certain coverages, an arrangement that generally worked out well.
Rogers expressed during the season a strong desire to remain with San Francisco. He was also a potential candidate to sign with St. Louis, where his former coordinator in Washington, Gregg Williams, will run the defense (pending a potential suspension for his role in New Orleans' bounty scandal). Rogers said he loved playing for Williams and, later, the 49ers' coordinator, Vic Fangio.
"This team, we love playing for him," Rogers said in October. "Guys just listen to him, we prepare well and he just lets you play. He lets you be you. He knows the strengths of each player, the weaknesses. This defense, getting after it the way we are, you can’t ask for a better coach than that."
Rogers said he valued the fairness Fangio demonstrated in holding accountable stars and role players alike. But the cornerback's return was hardly assured.
The Rams' agreement with Tennessee Titans free-agent corner Cortland Finnegan suggested Rogers would not be headed for St. Louis, at least. For the 49ers, re-signing Rogers keeps in place their 11 starters on defense from last season.