When the 49ers signed cornerback Carlos Rogers last August, few outside the Bay Area and Washington, D.C. noticed.
The former Redskin, who’d been a first-round pick of Washington in 2005, had played 68 games over six seasons and intercepted a total of just eight passes.
He hadn’t been to a Pro Bowl and he was never in the mix when experts talked about the NFC’s best corners.
Yet Rogers’ signing proved to be one of the biggest of the 49ers’ offseason acquisitions, as he stepped into the starting spot left by Nate Clements (who had been released) and had a Pro Bowl season, tying for the team lead in interceptions with six as the Niners went 13-3 and won the NFC West and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
Now Rogers – who signed just a one-year deal with San Francisco last summer worth a reported $4.25 million – is an unrestricted free agent.
Rogers has said he wants to stay with the team, and the 49ers have indicated they want him back.
But to keep Rogers and fellow free agent, safety Dashon Goldson, is going to cause owner Jed York to reach deep into his bank account.
Today marks the first day an NFL team can put the franchise tag on one of its free agents, and if the 49ers – who are likely to put the tag on either Rogers or Goldson – do so, it will be expensive.
As the San Francisco Examiner’s Samuel Lam notes, the likely cost to the team for putting the tag on Rogers will be $10.6 mllion for a one-year deal for 2012; for Goldson, it will be $6.2 million.
Fortunately, reports Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, the 49ers have plenty of salary cap space “to do everything they need to accomplish this offseason.”
Retaining Rogers certainly is a priority.
Aside from his six interceptions, Rogers, a 6-foot, 192-pound former Auburn standout, had 44 tackles and 18 passes defensed.
It was reported last summer that Rogers had been unhappy in the Redskins system, particularly after defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was let go.
But in San Francisco, Rogers says he had more freedom to play within defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s scheme, and loved every minute of being on a winning team.
“It’s just different,” Rogers said during a radio interview this past season. “You’ve got a good group of coaches. Ownership, they lovely to be around, fun, joke with. This whole San Francisco area, it's just loving us right now.”
In the radio interview, with radio station KNEW in November, Rogers said:
“They (49ers coaches) let me be free, they let me have fun, they let me blitz, they let me play man how I wanted to play it.”
If the Niners were to allow Rogers to hit the open market, he’d be a hot item. If the Niners took that route, his likely replacement would be 2011 rookie Chris Culliver, from South Carolina, who played in all 16 regular-season games, had 35 tackles and one interception.
But all indications point to Rogers wanting to stay, and the 49ers re-signing him.