49ers Trade for Veteran Edge Rusher Randy Gregory from Broncos

49ers Trade for Veteran Edge Rusher Randy Gregory from Broncos

The San Francisco 49ers, under the leadership of coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch since 2017, have consistently prioritized strengthening their defensive line. This strategy continued on Friday when they finalized a trade with the Denver Broncos, bringing edge rusher Randy Gregory to the Bay Area.

In the trade, the Niners acquired Randy Gregory and a 2024 seventh-round pick from the Broncos in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round pick. This move was motivated by Gregory’s exceptional pass-rushing abilities, as Shanahan noted, “Two years ago, when we played them in Dallas, he was as good of a rusher as we had gone against.” The Niners believe that adding Gregory will significantly improve their team.

An important aspect of the deal was the financial arrangement. The Broncos will cover approximately $10 million of Gregory’s salary for the remainder of the season, while the Niners will pay him the veteran minimum for that period. Gregory’s contract extends for three more years, but none of it is guaranteed beyond 2023.

Despite having around $40 million in salary cap space, the 49ers intend to roll over most of it to future years. This financial strategy aims to facilitate the re-signing of key players like wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who is entering the fifth year of his rookie contract in 2024.

Coach Shanahan expressed confidence in the trade, stating, “That’s why we felt extremely good about it, especially making a trade just having to flip sixth and seventh and not hurt anything moneywise. So, we feel fortunate to have him on our team.”

The deal materialized following a week of uncertainty surrounding Gregory’s status with the Broncos. Gregory and his representatives had requested a release earlier in the week, leading to speculation about his future with the team. Broncos head coach Sean Payton acknowledged the impending move, describing it as “something we felt was just best for our team right now timing-wise.”

Gregory arrived in the Bay Area to meet with coach Shanahan and the team, though he will not participate in Sunday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. Instead, he will join the Niners on Monday.

To create space for Gregory on the roster, the Niners plan to release veteran defensive lineman Kerry Hyder Jr., a move expected to become official on Saturday.

The addition of Randy Gregory generated excitement in the 49ers’ locker room. Left tackle Trent Williams, who has faced Gregory numerous times when he played for the Washington Commanders, sees the move as a perfect fit. Williams described Gregory as a player who plays with great intensity, excelling in pass-rushing, run defense, and overall effort.

Randy Gregory, 30, signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Broncos in March 2022. However, he was removed from the starting lineup last week against the Chicago Bears. In four games this season, Gregory has contributed nine tackles and one sack.

For the 49ers, Gregory’s addition enhances their defensive line alongside talents like Nick Bosa, Javon Hargrave, and Arik Armstead. San Francisco had been searching for an agile edge rusher to complement Bosa after losing Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu in free agency.

Through the first four weeks of the season, the Niners’ defensive ends combined for just four sacks, with three of them coming from Drake Jackson in the opening week. Gregory is expected to provide a quick and effective pass-rushing presence opposite Bosa on third downs.

This trade continues the 49ers’ tradition of investing in their defensive line. Over the years, they have used their top draft picks to select defensive linemen in 2017, 2019, 2020, and 2022. Additionally, they have signed lucrative contracts with players like Bosa, Hargrave, and Armstead. They also traded for Dee Ford and secured him with a significant contract in 2019.

A blend of on-field performance and off-field character played a role in the 49ers’ decision to bring Gregory on board. Despite a history of suspensions and injuries, Shanahan emphasized the importance of understanding a player’s character, noting that people who know Gregory speak highly of him. The Niners are optimistic about his contributions to the team.

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