Since watching the San Francisco 49ers sign Pro Bowl defensive tackle Javon Hargrave away from the Philadelphia Eagles on a four-year, $84 million contract on the opening day of free agency, fans have wondered what the future holds for 2020 first round pick Javon Kinlaw.
In the opinion of Blogging the Boys’ Brian Martin, the answer is simple: the 49ers should trade Kinlaw to the Dallas Cowboys.
“The Dallas Cowboys may have used their first-round pick on Mazi Smith to help upgrade their defensive line, but that in no way should keep them from continuing to improve their defensive front,” Martin wrote. “Kinlaw could be a low-risk, high-reward type of trade that could do just that, even if it is just a one-year rental. And, a 2024 Day 3 pick could be all it takes.”
Initially acquired with the pick John Lynch procured from the Indianapolis Colts for DeForest Buckner, Kinlaw has appeared in just 24 games for the 49ers since making his debut in 2020, including just six regular season contests in 2022. With just 1.5 regular season sacks to his credit, it’s worth wondering if the 49ers would be willing to move off of Kinlaw’s contract if the right offer comes along, especially after they opted against picking up his fifth-year option for the 2024 season.
A Javon Kinlaw Trade Wouldn’t Free Up Much Cap Space
With Kinlaw set to become a free agent in the spring of 2024, San Francisco may prefer cashing out of the fourth-year defensive tackle for a Day 3 pick, especially if it’s in the fourth round, over allowing him to sign elsewhere next spring for a low or even no compensatory pick.
If Lynch opts to go down that route, however, he won’t be getting much in terms of cap relief, as Kinlaw is only slated to have a cap number of $4.9 million in 2023 and would only free up $2,722,096 in a trade, according to Over The Cap.
Currently sitting at a projected $10.7 million according to Over The Cap, removing Kinlaw from the books wouldn’t provide the team with a substantial financial boon or allow the organization to make a big swing at one of the remaining free agents on the open market.
Trading Javon Kinlaw Would Test the 49ers’ Interior Depth
Likely slotted in as the 49ers’ DT3 behind Hargrave and captain Arik Armstead, Kinlaw could still play a sizeable role for San Francisco in 2023, as the team had five defensive tackles who played at least 150 snaps in last year’s injury-riddled season.
If the 49ers were to unload Kinlaw heading into the 2023 season without adding another player via trade or free agency, they would be forced to rely on a collection of players headlined by veteran journeymen like T.Y. McGill, Marlon Davidson, and Kerry Hyder Jr., and unproven talents like Spencer Waege and Kalia Davis, who have yet to see NFL action.
Of the players currently on the 90-man depth chart, the most intriguing option is probably Kevin Givens, who signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State in 2019 and has gone on to appear in 40 regular season games, plus six more in the postseason. Relied on heavily in 2022 when both Kinlaw and Armstead were injured, Givens started 11 of the 13 games he appeared in and turned in his best season as a pro, amassing two sacks, 20 combined tackles, and three QB hits during the regular season. After re-signing with the 49ers on a one-year, $2 million contract in free agency, Givens is expected to play a role for San Francisco in 2023 regardless of what name is on the front of Kinlaw’s jersey in Week 1.