On Thursday, news came out that the San Francisco 49ers would allow cornerback Shawntae Spencer and his agent to seek a trade away from the team before offseason activities and the like begins. San Francisco has historically done this for players they plan to cut, and rarely has it actually led to a player finding a trade destination. That being said, there could be a bit more to Spencer and his value.
The prevailing reason behind the 49ers parting ways with Spencer is the fact that he's set to make $3.2 million in 2012, while having been inactive for nine games including the playoffs. It makes perfect sense, and it's pretty easy to just say that Spencer will be released. It wouldn't make sense to carry him on the roster if he's going to miss half of the games and make that much money, especially with some high profile free agents this season.
But there's a couple things to consider in regards to the 49ers potentially keeping Spencer. For one, Spencer fell behind and was inactive for games he wasn't injured in. While there's definite injury concerns going forward (two hamstring injuries and turf toe in 2011 alone), it was the early injury that put him out of the quick training camp and set him behind.
It was an entirely new coaching staff and there was a big lockout. When Spencer had a chance to show the new coaches that he deserved to keep his starting job, he was hurt and passed by. Mid-season, it didn't make sense to devote time to Spencer. They had to go with what they were going with. So Spencer could conceivably be valuable to the team, just one season removed from a very stellar season.
On top of those things, Carlos Rogers is a free agent, and behind him there's not a lot to work with. Spencer is valuable against certain types of receivers, but his value to the 49ers shoots up if they somehow can't re-sign Rogers. At first, it seemed inevitable that they get a done with the Pro Bowl cornerback, but after some notes that the 49ers might be more interested in bringing back Dason Goldson, there hasn't been much news related to a potential deal with Rogers.
So Spencer could be a little bit more valuable than most are giving him credit for. Which may all be for naught, really, as that value simply means that Spencer could have some suitors for a late-round pick in a trade scenario. The more valuable Spencer is to the 49ers, the more valuable he could be to another team. Really, the best situation for them is that another team wants to give them a fifth- or sixth-round pick for him.