The 49ers Made Fred Warner the NFL's Highest-Paid LB (And Roquan Smith Should Take Notice)

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The 49ers Made Fred Warner the NFL’s Highest-Paid LB (And Roquan Smith Should Take Notice)

Chicago Bears

Watching everyone but Allen Robinson II get new deals over the last year has been … a mild annoyance (to keep it PG). However, the most recent extension should be one of interest for Chicago’s football team.

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reports inside linebacker Fred Warner and the 49ers have agreed to a mega-deal. Warner’s extension is a five-year pact worth up to $95 million. It includes $40.5 million in guarantees and comes with an annual average value of $19 million per season. Ultimately, it makes Warner football’s highest-paid linebacker. And with good reason, too. Warner, 24, is coming off a tip-top season in which he came up with 125 tackles, 5 tackles-for-loss, 7 QB Hits, and 2 interceptions.

 

This new contract for Warner sets a high bar, to be sure. But it’s a welcome one for linebackers seeking paydays of their own.

Upon seeing this news, I imagine someone like Roquan Smith’s eyes turning into dollar signs like a cartoon. Because this market-setting deal positions Chicago’s top inside linebacker to ask for a long-term extension of his own. Back in June, we examined what an extension might look like for Smith after the Dolphins inked Jerome Baker to a new deal. The modest three-year extension was worth $12.5 million per year and included $28 million in full guarantees. It was a deal that put him among the top-10 players at the position in terms of AAV and total guarantees, and just outside the top-10 in full guarantees. But Warner’s deal blows that one out of the water. Good for him.

Moving forward, I can’t help but think that the Bears missed an opportunity to save some cap space by not being a bit more proactive with a Smith extension. The cost of doing business figures to only go up from here. Smith isn’t as accomplished as Warner, who has a Pro Bowl nod and first-team All-Pro accolades under his belt. And if Smith replicates his 2020 season — one in which he had more solo tackles, tackles-for-loss, and sacks than Warner — then he’ll be resetting the market this time next year.

So, in the end, I hope the Bears (and Smith) are paying attention to what is happening with the Warner deal if they want to come to an extension of their own down the line.

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)


Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.