The 49ers needed to find a new starting middle linebacker this offseason, but paying Kwon Alexander $54 million was not the right move.
Making a move to sign a player early in free agency always puts NFL teams at risk of making an overpay. That’s exactly what the 49ers have done by moving quickly to sign Kwon Alexander to a massive contract.
Alexander showed signs of being an above average linebacker during his tenure in Tampa Bay, but giving him $54 million over four years could end up being one of the worst contracts of the offseason.
We wouldn’t like this deal even if Alexander wasn’t coming off a healthy season for the Buccaneers. That definitely isn’t the case though. Alexander will arrive in San Francisco coming off an ACL tear. The knee injury caused the former LSU star to miss 10 games for Tampa Bay in 2018.
Presumably, Alexander will supplant Fred Warner at the middle linebacker spot for the 49ers. The best thing we can say about this transaction is that he should be an upgrade for head coach Kyle Shanahan at that spot. The franchise has been looking for a player to build around at middle linebacker since they were forced to part ways with Reuben Foster.
Acquiring an upgrade over Warner shouldn’t have cost the 49ers nearly this much money. If Alexander was the only player middle linebacker San Francisco liked in free agency then they should’ve just used a draft pick on the position. Instead, they’ve made a mediocre linebacker one of the highest paid players at his position.
49ers fans should be particularly concerned about their team’s recent history of giving out massive contracts to free agents who don’t play premium positions. Middle linebacker is an important spot on defense, but it’s one of the lowest paid starting positions in the NFL. Last offseason, San Francisco raised eyebrows by making Kyle Juszczyk the highest paid fullback in the game. The team topped it off by giving Jerick McKinnon a big contract to be their featured running back.
To put it mildly, the 49ers front office doesn’t seem to have a good grasp on which positions require big contracts in the modern NFL. Making Alexander the highest-paid middle linebacker in football is a terrible start to the team’s offseason. San Francisco fans should hope things get better from this point forward.