Christian McCaffrey

Barnwell suggests how 49ers could use Eagles' model to pay stars 

NBC Universal, Inc.

The 49ers face the difficult task of paying all of their star players due to receive lucrative contracts, but could another NFC rival's model be something San Francisco emulates to retain its blue chip talent? ESPN's Bill Barnwell believes so.

During an appearance on "NFL Live," Barnwell suggested the 49ers could follow a similar path as the Philadelphia Eagles, who will be paying a record cost for their offensive players during the 2024 NFL season.

"You know on one hand, it's tough. But I look around the league, and there is a team that has managed to do it, and that's the Philadelphia Eagles," Barnwell explained. "They are spending $213 million in cash on their offense this year, the most for any team in the history of the National Football League. But think about all the players they have afforded to pay on the offensive side of the roster.

"[Quarterback] Jalen Hurts making a market deal. [Running back] Saquon Barkley. Two star receivers in A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith. [Tight end] Dallas Goedert. [Left tackle] Jordan Mailata. [Right tackle] Lane Johnson. [Center] Landon Dickerson. They're sort of playing the, 'Hey, you can have your cake and eat it too scenario on offense.'

Barnwell continued by explaining the 49ers face a different hurdle due to the draft capital they parted with in the March 2021 trade for the No. 3 overall pick that San Francisco used on quarterback Trey Lance, citing that there still is a path to retaining its stockpile of offensive stars.

"I think you have to draft really well and that could be an issue because the [49ers] don't have those three first-round picks from the Trey Lance trade on their roster. But I do believe if they're really committed to keeping this offense together -- you might have to sacrifice other places -- but you can make it work.

San Francisco possesses arguably the NFL's most talent-rich group of offensive skill players, with wide receiver Deebo Samuel, tight end George Kittle and running back Christian McCaffrey among the group of First-Team All-Pro weapons who are under contract with the 49ers through at least 2025.

However, quarterback Brock Purdy and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk both are expected to receive substantial contracts in the near future, which could force San Francisco to get creative with the financial logistics of keeping its star-studded cast together.

While the long-term outlook remains uncertain, the 49ers are focused on maximizing their window with all of their players during the 2024 season, seeking to attain the franchise's sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy that has eluded the franchise for nearly three decades.

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