The San Francisco 49ers are currently shopping ILB Michael Wilhoite in exchange for a sixth or seventh-round draft pick. News first reported by Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows, it appears now that Wilhoite will be on another team in 2015. But the question remains, which teams will target the Washburn product?
When news broke two days ago, I made the suggestion that the Chicago Bears would be the ideal fit. The Bears are in dire need of a bruising thumper at the inside linebacker position as they transition to a 3-4 base defense, while the trade would reunite Wilhoite with DC Vic Fangio.
The Chicago Bears need a ILB and Michael Wilhoite would be a perfect fit as he would reunite with Vic Fangio.
— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) March 5, 2015
Now, it appears that the Bears are looking to trade one of their own in WR Brandon Marshall and CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco believes a match may be possible.
Trading Marshall for Wilhoite straight-up is highly unlikely but the two potential trading partners are not. The 49ers need a deep-threat wide-receiver and Marshall would instantly give them that asset while the Bears reload on defense with a player Fangio is familiar with.
It would be a win-win for both teams. Especially since the Bears would rather commit to WR Alshon Jeffery to a long-term contract. But what will it take to pry Marshall away from the Bears? Could the Bears simply release him when the new league year begins Mar. 10? Absolutely. And doing so would save the team $4 million in cap-space. However, they will have to do it before Mar. 12 as that’s when his $7.5 million salary would be fully-guaranteed.
But make no mistake, the Bears would rather get something than nothing and the 49ers may be just what the doctor ordered.
As I said earlier, trading Marshall for Whilhoite is not realistic, but add in a fourth or fifth-round draft pick and the trade makes sense for both sides. Not to mention, the team could then wipe their hands clean of WR Stevie Johnson in the process with his whopping $6,025,000 million cap figure. The team could then use that money toward Marshall’s $7.9 million salary this upcoming season. The excess owed could then come from what Wilhoite would have been scheduled to make since he’s currently an exclusive rights free-agent.
It’s good to note, that the 49ers are looking for Johnson to take a significant pay cut but Marshall is no Johnson and is worth much more. The question is will GM Trent Baalke honor his Pro Bowl salary? That remains to be seen.
If the 49ers do land Marshall they could then focus on other pressing needs in the draft such as guard, outside linebacker, and cornerback. A big ‘if’ but one that makes sense as the 49ers have been looking for a big playmaking wide-receiver ever since they traded away controversial but talented WR Terrell Owens.
In 136 regular-season games, Marshall has dialed up 773 catches for 9,771 receiving yards and 65 touchdowns.
As the 49ers continue to do their due diligence it will be interesting to see if Baalke would pull the trigger as he has not had great success in drafting wide-receivers.