Someone from the San Francisco 49ers could become richer than he’s ever been.
Unfortunately, it may not be with the 49ers as the player of interest has seen his name become a prized commodity in the free agent market.
Laken Tomlinson is coming off a season to remember on his personal end: Earning Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his career and, for the third consecutive season, only allowed three sacks throughout the year including playoffs (three on 681 pass blocking attempts in 2021 according to Pro Football Focus).
Now, one NFL analyst isn’t just predicting Tomlinson to be a top option among free agent offensive guards. But he expects a deal that could pay him more than what the 49ers gave him.
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Tomlinson Predicted to see Himself Surpass Eight Digits, Analyst Says
Ari Meirov of PFF compiled a list of 10 players who he believes will “get more money than expected” on Tuesday, March 8. And Tomlinson was the lone 49er representative on his list.
Meirov’s projection for the 30-year-old: More than $10 million on his next deal, which will be more than he’s ever made even in his brief stop in the Motor City. Here’s what Meirov wrote:
“The former Detroit Lions first-round pick has flourished in San Francisco. He might not be much of a household name, but Tomlinson has not missed a game over the past four seasons and has played every single offensive snap for Kyle Shanahan across the past three years. His 75.9 overall grade in 2021 ranked 11th among 90 qualifying guards. Similar to James Daniels, the expectation is he’ll get over $10 million a year on the open market.”
Per Spotrac, the most career earnings Tomlinson has ever made in a season was $4.5 million — which was from 2021.
Already, the 49ers are expected to have a difficult time with trying to keep Tomlinson on board. NFL analyst and insider Jordan Schultz posted on Wednesday, March 9 that the 49ers have numerous of players they would like to pay/keep…knowing that money will be thin for S.F.
And there’s already one interested suitor that made a deep run in this past season’s playoffs.
Tomlinson in Stripes?
Per ESPN insiders Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano on Sunday, March 6, the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals are among the interested teams eyeballing Tomlinson.
It’s highly understandable, considering the myriad of sacks the offensive line surrendered this past season — a whopping 70 total sacks of quarterback Joe Burrow including the 19 they allowed during the playoffs.
But the Bengals would still face some competition from others who are inquiring about Tomlinson’s services via the ESPN insiders. Per Fowler:
“He’s emerging as a top guard available and could spark a bidding war closer to free agency. The Bengals, Panthers, Vikings, Steelers, Jets and Seahawks are among teams that will be in the guard market.”
Tomlinson isn’t just the only prominent guard name who is anticipated to command lots of free agent attention come March 16, the date when the free agency signing period begins. Austin Corbett of the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams is expected to hear from multiple teams. Meanwhile, Brandon Scherff of the Washington Commanders has the expectation of hitting past $14 million at his next stop while Chicago Bears free agent guard James Daniels has a projected ceiling of between $10 to $13 million for his next deal per Meirov.
And there’s already the talk of the 49ers taking in a potential replacement for Tomlinson: Versatile lineman Dylan Parham from the University of Memphis, who Bleacher Report now has going No. 61 to the 49ers in their post-combine mock draft.