The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a problem at offensive guard. They seem to have that issue every year, but this season is particularly egregious, in part because we can't say "well, at least there's a chance this former Pro Bowler can play." The one potential solution for that problem is called Alex Boone, a quality starter for the San Francisco 49ers who has been holding out for basically all of the offseason.
And now there's a report that teams want to deal for him. Problem solved, right?
#49ers Feeling around league is multiple teams are poised to show interest in trading for holdout G. Alex Boone.— Bill Williamson (@BWilliamsonESPN) August 9, 2014
No. This is not good news for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Multiple teams interested in Alex Boone means the price will go up, and the Bucs may not (and probably should not) want to match that price. Boone is a solid starting guard, perhaps an above average one, but hardly someone worth giving up the farm for.
A price too high
It's important to remember that the Bucs are far from the only team with offensive line issues. The Colts have seen their line ravaged by injury, and they'll certainly want to sniff around Boone -- and they haven't been shy about trading for players in the past. But other teams struggle with their lines every year: the Jaguars didn't do much better than the Bucs did yesterday, the Colts have lost a pair of starters to injury, and the Rams even signed Davin Joseph. It's ugly out there.
This means that the 49ers can effectively set their own price, within some reason. This is not a situation where a candy wrapper and Mike James are going to get the 49ers to give up a quality starter. It's going to take a decent amount of draft ammunition -- and the Bucs don't want to do that.
Any draft pick given up for Boone isn't just a lost selection, it's also the loss of a cheap, young player. The Bucs not only lose that selection, they're forced to give Boone a long-term, expensive contract they could have spent elsewhere. It's a double cost for the team, and trades like that have gotten the Bucs into trouble plenty of times in the past.
Alex Boone's leverage is non-existent
In addition, the 49ers don't really need to trade Alex Boone unless they get a lot in return for him, because the 49ers know that Boone doesn't have much of a choice. He loses $30,000 for every day of training camp he's missed, plus a regular season game check for every preseason game he misses. Which means he's basically lost a quarter of his regular season salary already. To make matters worse for him, if he doesn't report to play before the regular season starts, his contract simply rolls over into next year and he'll be in the exact same spot in 2015.
In other words: the 49ers aren't the party without leverage, here. They don't want to start someone other than Boone, but it's not the end of the world for them. But Boone doesn't have an alternative. He either never plays in the NFL again, the 49ers trade him, or he acquiesces and shows up.
A trade is unlikely
Yes, the Bucs desperately need help at guard. Unfortunately at this point in the offseason, it's basically too late to get that without giving up a significant amount of draft and salary capital. Jason Licht has been very value-oriented in free agency and the draft, and trading for Boone doesn't fit that strategy.
In addition, Boone wouldn't instantly fix the Bucs' issues anyway. Oniel Cousins and Jamon Meredith both looked bad at guard yesterday. Even if they trade for Boone, one other player is going to have to start at guard -- and that would still be an issue.
As much as this could be a problem this season, the Bucs are probably going into the season with the players at guard they currently have. Perhaps Kadeem Edwards manages to beat out Oniel Cousins and Patrick Omameh pushes out Jamon Meredith, but an external solution just is not very likely anymore.