One of the cornerstones of the Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco was the massive, mauling offensive lines that paved the way for Frank Gore and the running game. The unit did regress this past season, but even with Mike Iupati’s struggles, the 49ers are a better team with him than without him. Unfortunately, keeping Iupati will be a tall order, and the 49ers will let him test the open market, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area.
Iupati was one of two starting offensive linemen drafted by San Francisco in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The other, right tackle Anthony Davis, received a long-term extension before the 2013 season. Iupati had to wait, and now his market may prove to be too competitive for the 49ers to match. Still, even if the team loses Iupati it should return the other four members of the starting line.
San Francisco seemed to prepare for this possibility, drafting Brandon Thomas a season ago, and Joe Looney has also received considerable playing time of late. One of those guys should be able to fill Iupati’s place. Most have figured Iupati is definitely gone from San Francisco, and the most surprising aspect of Maiocco’s tweet may actually be that there is a chance he returns.
SB Nation presents: NFC West team needs in the 2015 NFL Draft
Wayne has surgery, mulling retirement
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne had triceps surgery and is now dealing with the decision of whether to retire or return for another season, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Wayne is currently rehabbing the injury but it’s unclear if that is a factor in his decision. Wayne has been in the league since 2001, when the Colts made him a first-round pick, and he’s amassed 1,070 receptions for 14,345 yards and 82 touchdowns in that time.
His production has been sporadic over the past couple seasons but he’s remained an effective receiver. He also has only ever played for the Colts organization, and has stated that he can’t imagine playing anywhere else. Wayne is set to be a free agent in March, which could have a lot to do with his decision. If the Colts want him back, it seems more likely that he’d return.
Young to take part in veteran combine
While the big news out of the NFL’s first veteran combine is that Michael Sam will be in attendance to try and convince a team he deserves a chance, there are bound to be some other interesting names. One such name: quarterback Vince Young, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Young will turn 32 in May and hasn’t played in a regular season game in the NFL since 2011, when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, and played for the Titans before heading to Philadelphia. He’s signed with other organizations and worked out for other teams since the last time he played for the Eagles, but none of those teams have used him or kept him for very long. Young has a career completion percentage of 57.9 with 46 touchdowns and 51 interceptions.
NFL Veteran Combine
Miami releases Gibson
The Miami Dolphins released wide receiver Brandon Gibson on Friday, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Gibson was owed almost $3.5 million in 2015, and though at one point he was considered an up-and-comer, he struggled last season. He’s dealt with multiple injuries that have slowed him down and he wound up being the No. 4 receiver on a middling Dolphins team in 2014. He caught just 29 passes for 295 yards and a touchdown last season, but should be able to find a backup job somewhere in the league at 27 years old.
Washington saves big
Washington, the team that just signed defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois on Thursday, made a couple big cuts in that area on Friday. They released defensive linemen Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen on Friday, which saves them nearly $10 million in cap space for the 2015 season, according to John Keim of ESPN.
Bowen saved the team $5.5 million on his own. Both Cofield and Bowen have been effective at times, and at one point were anchoring what was considered a deeply talented defensive line. But injuries wrecked said line, and Washington is content to part ways with these two to make room for Jean-Francois, who should now step into a starting role.
The Atlanta Falcons have released wide receiver Harry Douglas, according to Pro Football Talk. Douglas, 30, played seven seasons for the Falcons and racked up 3,130 receiving yards with eight touchdowns.
By cutting Douglas, the Falcons open up another $3.5 million in cap space to help fortify the team’s other needs. Atlanta now has an estimated $29 million to spend throughout free agency and the draft. The Falcons finished with the worst-ranked defense in the NFL last year, a group that figures to get plenty of attention with head coach Dan Quinn coming over from a defensive coordinator role.
Douglas was primarily a third option to Julio Jones and Roddy White throughout career with Atlanta. Douglas had a career-year in 2013 when he stepped up in the absence of Jones, catching 85 passes for 1,067 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Outside of missing all of 2009 with a knee injury, Douglas has proven durable by missing just five other games during his career.
The Miami Dolphins also made news Friday morning, releasing veteran receiver Brian Hartline, according to Alex Marvez. Hartline, 28, had a poor year in 2014 after enjoying consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns the two years prior, catching 39 passes for 474 yards.
By cutting Hartline, the Dolphins save $3.1 million in cap space but also take on $4.2 million in dead money for the 2015 season. Miami enjoyed the emergence of rookie receiver Jarvis Landry last year across from Mike Wallace, perhaps making Hartline expandable. The Dolphins now have an estimated $9 million in cap space.
Ravens release Canty
Ravens announce release of Chris Canty as they continue to try to create cap space for 2015 moves
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) February 27, 2015
The Ravens signed the former Giants defensive tackle in 2013 to a three-year deal. He recorded one sack and a total of four quarterback pressures last season. Canty saw his workload decline over the last two years, from 579 snaps in 2013 to just 360 regular season snaps last year. The move saves Baltimore $3.3 million in cap space.
The Atlanta Falcons have released veteran running back Steven Jackson, the team announced on Thursday. Jackson has been one of the most effective running backs in the NFL for about a decade, but the 31-year-old has slowed considerably in his two seasons with the Falcons.
When new Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan neglected to say whether Jackson would be back in 2015, it was pretty clear that his chances of returning were slim. He was set to make $3.75 million in 2015 and the Falcons will save that same amount against the cap.
Jackson put up eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with the St. Louis Rams between 2005 and 2012, including 1,045 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and four touchdowns in 2012. That was his final year with the team that drafted him all the way back in 2004. But it wasn’t just injuries that limited Jackson with the Falcons. He also struggled when he was actually on the field, posting per carry averages of 3.5 and 3.7 yards in 2013 and 2014. In all, he ran for 1,250 yards and 12 touchdowns in two seasons with the Falcons.
It’s unclear if Jackson is considering retirement or if he’ll see if he can catch on with a team in 2015. There’s no shortage of teams looking for a starting running back, but there’s also no shortage of big-name backs on the open market. Even in the aging veteran space, there are better options, such as San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore. On top of that, this NFL Draft class is strongest at running back. It could be tough for Jackson to find a team in 2015.
Atlanta drafted Devonta Freeman in 2014, but doesn’t have much at the position and will likely be looking for more running back help, either on the free agent market or the NFL Draft.
UPDATE 9:45 p.m. ET: Jackson addressed his future in a post on his personal website:
A lot has been written lately about my future. There are questions about my age, and what I have left in the tank. Of that, I will simply say this. For the first nine years of my career, I was used like a battering ram, punishing opposing defense over four quarters of a game. Maybe you stopped me the first five times I got the ball, but by the 15th or 20th time I got it, late in a game — let’s just say you were really feeling me at that point.
Make no mistake: I can still punish a defense. I still have a warrior’s heart. There are 1,000-yard seasons left in these legs. I know what I am still capable of, and I have every intention of proving it.
In the post, he also thanked the Falcons, owner Arthur Blank and the city of Atlanta for the way he was treated during his two seasons with the team.