While San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert‘s trade request seemingly comes just a week after he reportedly asked for a raise, the 49er’s agent says it’s actually been in the making since the team’s Super Bowl appearance.
At the end of the 2019 season, Mostert had good reason to try and renegotiate with San Francisco. 952 total yards and ten total touchdowns in the regular season were followed up by a monstrous four-touchdown performance against the Green Bay Packers, which was then complemented by a two-touchdown performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.
According to NBC Sports’ Jennifer Lee Chan, this prompted Mostert and his agent Brett Tessler to quickly approach the front office in Santa Clara, California in attempt to restructure the running back’s contract after becoming the 49ers’ top option in the backfield.
In a conversation with Chan, Tessler reportedly explained that Mostert’s first request came all the way back in February, and that “(COVID-19) is not an excuse.”
There has been some reaction from San Francisco fans saying that the timing of the request amid a pandemic isn’t a good look on Mostert, but with the context of Tessler’s words, it appears as if Mostert first requested a raise long before the American shutdown and ensuing developments due to COVID-19.
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How George Kittle and 49ers Backfield Affects Negotiations
While Tessler’s claim that he and Mostert first approached the 49ers shortly after the Super Bowl does add context to where the relationship between player and team is currently at, it doesn’t really help Mostert’s case all that much.
The fact of the matter is that San Francisco already tight on money, with just under $12 million in cap space and offseason-dominating conundrum of paying tight end George Kittle. Whether Kittle deserves a top receiver’s contract(upwards of $15 million,) or just to be the NFL’s top-paid TE(somewhere close to $13 million,) the 49ers will already have to make some adjustments, and Mostert doesn’t make things easier.
However, according to Chan’s article, Tessler and Mostert simply want to be paid according to the current pay scheme in the 49ers’ backfield, which sees Tevin Coleman earn just under $2 million more than Mostert, while fellow RB Jerick McKinnon is set to earn around $200,000 less than the former Purdue Boilermaker despite having his contract reworked.
Potential Options for 49ers Going Forward
Considering that Mostert is certainly the most valuable piece in the 49ers backfield and McKinnon is getting the majority of his paycheck via bonus, the only cut that makes sense is Coleman, unless the 49ers decide to trim important depth players in other positions, which may not interest them considering an injury bug has seemed to sprung up this offseason.
Otherwise, the 49ers can call Mostert’s bluff and see if he’ll dress out when the season comes. Trading is an option of course as well, but the timing and nature of Tessler’s statement likely means that San Francisco won’t get the value that Mostert is actually worth.
For better or worse, the manner in which Tessler and Mostert have handled this offseason likely means that the running back is still with the team come playing time.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.