"What a difference a year makes! Free agency will be a lot better this year."
That gleeful tweet occurred midday Saturday and was courtesy of agent Drew Rosenhaus. A couple of hours later, we found out why Rosenhaus was so happy. One of his clients, cornerback Sam Shields, signed a contract with the Packers worth $39 million over four years. The contract, worth $9.75 million a year, came on the heels of the one cornerback Ben Grimes signed with the Dolphins that pays him $8 million a year.
Last year, the cornerback market was flat. Those that did sign deals made between $5 and $6 million a year. During the season, Tramaine Brock signed a four-year deal with the 49ers worth as much as $16 million.
The expanding salary cap and the suddenly robust market for cornerbacks means that 49ers free agent Tarell Brown could be more expensive to re-sign than the 49ers were hoping. It also may make Carlos Rogers more reluctant to accept a reduction -- or at least a big reduction -- to the $6.6 million salary he is due to earn in 2014.
The 49ers asked him to reduce his salary last year or risk being cut. Rogers refused. He told The Bee in February that he expected the team to approach him again this year with a similar message.
Rogers noted that he plays both left cornerback and nickel cornerback. "The last three years, I played the most snaps on this whole team, period," he said. "Why would I take less? That was our approach last year. This year? It may be something different. I know the average for a cornerback -- the average -- is still high."
It's bound to be even higher this year. Free agency begins Tuesday.
-- Matt Barrows