© Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
The first domino has fallen.
Fewer than two hours into the open negotiating period with unrestricted free agents, the 49ers havef signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander to a four-year, $54-million contract, Pro Football Talk first reported. Alexander will make $27 million in guaranteed money.
Kwon Alexander will sign a four-year, $54 million deal, with $27 million in rolling guarantees, per source.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 11, 2019
Alexander’s $13.5 million per year makes him the highest paid inside linebacker in NFL history.
Alexander, 24, led the NFL with 108 solo tackles in 2016, though he conceded 16 broken tackles. One year later, Alexander made the 2017 Pro Bowl in his third NFL season.
His 2018 campaign ended after six games when he tore his ACL during a Week 7 matchup against the Browns. At the time of his injury, Alexander was second on Tampa Bay with 45 tackles. He’s expected to be recovered by the start of the 2019 season.
The 49ers had searched for the right player to pair alongside promising second-year linebacker Fred Warner since Reuben Foster was released from the team prior to Week 12 of the 2018 season. The team was expected to pursue Alexander, C.J. Mosley, and Anthony Barr, but the latter two players, who are perennial Pro Bowlers, likely demanded even heftier price tags.
With about $66 million in cap space entering Monday, the 49ers can certainly afford to make this move. It underscores the 49ers brass’ emphasis on improved linebacker play, which is telling, considering the additional weaknesses the team needs to address at edge rusher, free safety, and receiver.