Navorro Bowman was released from the San Francisco 49ers Friday, October 13th and news spread quickly that suitors would have a decision from Bowman no later than Monday. The Oakland Raiders were the first visit for Bowman, and they didn’t take a chance letting him leave the facility as they signed him to a 1-year, 3 million dollar deal. Also, keep in mind that Bowman is getting his entire 2017 pay from the 49ers as well, so Bowman didn’t need a mega-deal to sign for this season. I’m going to break down the short term and long term effects for both the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers.
San Francisco 49ers
General Manager of the 49ers, John Lynch, announced Friday that the team was releasing Bowman after they explored trade options. Lynch commented that they were real close to trading Bowman, but that he, “earned the right to have options and choices.” I can’t help but speculate that Lynch, being a former player, could understand why Bowman would want to leave his options open and not just let the club take any deal. So, with Bowman gone the 49ers youth movement continues. The exit of Bowman allows the 49ers to play a few young LBs and see what they have before next year’s draft, which the 49ers are sure to have a top 5 pick in.
The most prominent beneficiary of Bowman’s release is easily Reuben Foster. He now gets to man the middle of the 49ers defense and prove he was worth the late first round selection. Once he is ready to return from his injury, he should not leave the field. With his speed, ability to cover and make tackles should be a dynasty asset for a very long time.
Reuben Foster is a huge difference maker. 49ers will be better than most expect because of their front 7. This open-field tackle is nasty: pic.twitter.com/a2AOnQJaMg
— Spread Investor (@spreadinvestor) September 8, 2017
I know this was preseason, but this play shows the play recognition and athleticism to make plays behind the line of scrimmage, and he should be doing plenty of that for years to come.
I’m joking here, but with Bowman gone and Foster not quite ready to return, it was Brock Coyle who started and played 100% of defensive snaps in Week 6. So, should Foster not be able to stay healthy, Coyle will get the call. He is not really a fantasy option, as he only had 3 tackles and 3 assists with full snaps. You usually expect more from a starting MLB, so there’s nothing to see here.
Quite possibly the most prominent bright spot for the 49ers LBs has been Ray-Ray. With 30 solo tackles, 15 assists, 1 forced fumble, 2 INTs and a sack Armstrong has been the 49ers biggest playmaker at LB. He should continue to play anywhere from 75% to 98% of snaps that he played while Foster was out at the weakside. He has made the most of his opportunities and may have helped the 49ers decision to reduce Bowman’s snaps and ultimately release him. Armstrong is currently top 12 in tackles and an LB1 in most scoring systems. I would place him as more of an LB2-3 long term, but once Foster is back in the mix, we should know if he will continue his LB1 pace.
The Oakland MLB situation has been a mess for a long time. Perry Riley (2016), Curtis Lofton (2015), Miles Burris (2014), and Nick Roach (2013) were the replacements for Rolando McClain who held down the position for 3 years (2010-2012). The Raiders started out the year with Marquel Lee manning the middle, but an ankle injury has put him out of action. Xavier Woodson-Luster was the latest to fill in but will give way to Bowman as soon as Thursday according to Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. The Raiders disappointing start has caused Thursday Night’s matchup with the Chiefs a must win if they have hopes of winning the division or even make the playoffs. So how about your fantasy players impact? Let’s take a look.
Bowman should stay on the field for every snap, maybe not in Thursday’s game since there is only a 3-day turnaround from signing to gameday. By Week 8 though, we should see 100% snaps for Bowman. In 5 games for the 49ers, Bowman collected 22 solo tackles, 16 assists and a pass defended. He should continue to give a solid floor of 4 tackles and 3 assists per game, which if you project his floor for his missed game would still make him an LB2/3. In redraft leagues and dynasty contenders, he would be a player to own as we have seen Oakland middle linebackers be productive tacklers.
Lee has been sidelined since Week 5 with an ankle sprain, but he may have to wait a while even when healthy before he can take the field for the Raiders. Bowman will be taking his starting spot and will probably not give that up even when Lee is ready to return. The positive spin on this is that he will get to learn from one of the best linebackers of the past decade. Bowman is only signed for this season, so Lee may still be the starting MLB for 2018 and beyond. I would hold on to Lee if you can afford the roster spot or stash him on the taxi squad if possible. With Bowman’s injury history and the 1-year deal Lee may get his chance soon.
Other Raiders LBs
I don’t really see Bowman affecting the other LBs as Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin are mainly used as pass rushers. Cory James will probably be on the field in base sets, but he was a non-factor for Week 6 as he was dealing with his knee injury. Look for Mack to still be Mack, Irvin to have a big week here and there and James to pick up tackles on the weak side. Besides Mack, I don’t really want to own any of these guys this season. James could be an LB3/4 the rest of the way for deeper leagues.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my breakdown of the fallout from the Bowman signing. Make sure you check out all the weekly IDP coverage at DFF including Waiver Adds today. Let us know how we’re doing below or find me on Twitter @seahawksdan8.