Sure, the 49ers signed Justin Smith to a big-money free-agent contract in 2008. And they traded for a high-profile receiver - Anquan Boldin - and paid him $6 million last year. But the team typically doesn't bring in high-priced players from the outside and pay them more than their locker room leaders.
And if the team were to trade for Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson - and inherit his $10.5 million salary in 2014 - Jackson's allotment would outstrip that of Smith, Boldin, Patrick Willis, Frank Gore and every other long-time 49er.
"Never say never, but history usually repeats itself, right?" general manager Trent Baalke said of bringing in an outsider and giving him a team-high deal. "So historically the answer to that would be no. But we always reserve the right to do what's in the best interest of the 49ers."
Baalke today reiterated that the 49ers have not made any contact with the Eagles, who are reportedly shopping Jackson and who could cut him if they can't find a trade partner. Jackson led the Eagles with 82 receptions, 1,332 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns last year. He theoretically would be desirable for a 49ers offense in need of a speedy, downfield receiver.
But Baalke said the question of how Jackson or any newcomer would affect the chemistry of the 49ers' locker room - from a salary and personalty standpoint - would be paramount.
"There's a lot of thought that goes into every decision," he said. "One key thing we focus on is, 'What is this decision going to do to our locker room?' That's a big part of the decision-making process. We spend a lot of time looking at that, talking through it, thinking about it and making sure that the move we make isn't counter productive to winning. Because that's the ultimate goal - is to win."
- Matt Barrows