Blockbuster: The #49ers are trading Pro Bowl DL DeForest Buckner to the #Colts, sources say, in exchange for a first-round pick. A massive deal for both teams, with one of SF’s key players on the move.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2020
Trade AND deal: Colts trade first-round pick (13th overall) to 49ers for All-Pro DT DeForest Buckner, who already has agreed to a massive contract that pays him $21 million a year and makes him the second-highest paid DT in NFL history behind only Aaron Donald, sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2020
Originally the 7th overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Oregon, the 6’7”, 295 pound Buckner has quickly become one of the league’s best defensive tackles—having already become a 2nd-Team All-Pro (2019) and Pro Bowler (2018) to start his young career.
The 25 year old defensive tackle is fresh off a season for the NFC Champion 49ers in which he recorded 62 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 9 QB hits, 46 QB hurries and 2 forced fumbles—making all 16 starts in 2019.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Bucker was their 15th best rated defensive tackle with a +78.8 grade overall this past season.
Bucker was voted as a team captain on the 49ers’ vaunted defense, which speaks to his leadership, and he’s also incredibly durable—having only missed one start in his entire 4-year career to date.
The 49ers just gave Buckner’s former teammate Arik Armstead a 5-year, $85 million deal, so San Francisco simply may not have been able to afford both Buckner and Armstead going forward on mega-deals—with an already salary cap space strapped squad.
The Colts capitalized on the rare opportunity to get an elite player in his prime, who fills a major position of need.
While general manager Chris Ballard has said “he loves picks”, he may have simply loved Buckner more—and still has an early second round pick from Washington (#34) at his disposal come late April, along with the Colts own second round pick (#44).
The Colts are no longer being frugal with their salary cap space either, as they’re projected to sign Buckner to a new contract extension that pays him $21 million annually over 5 years and will make him one of the highest paid defensive lineman in all of football.
Ballard has said that the “three technique defensive tackle really drive this thing” regarding his defense, and he just helped his franchise acquire one of the best young ones in the business—albeit still at a high cost.
Buckner should instantly transform the Colts defense in the trenches, as he’s a terrific all-around defensive tackle against both the run and as an interior pass rusher—with a unique combination of size, strength, and athleticism—featuring incredible length, power, and explosion.
What a way for the Colts to kick-off their free agency by acquiring a dynamic, difference-making defensive tackle in a move that no one really saw coming.