Tuesday afternoon, Pro Football Talk reported that the NFL salary cap was expected to exceed $123 million in 2013. This would mean a potential rise of $2.4 million compared to the 2012 cap. We discussed some of the general implications yesterday, but I want to look a bit more specifically at how it helps the 49ers this season.
This will help the 49ers big time, even with the recently completed Alex Smith trade. Prior to the trade, the 49ers were an estimated $2.557 million over the $121.1 million previously projected cap. The change to a $123 million cap would put the 49ers at around only $657,000 over the cap.
The trade of Alex Smith provides them with over $9 million in additional cap space. Smith is not due his $1 million roster bonus until the third day of the league year, so if the team finalizes the trade when March 12 hits, they will unload the entirety of his cap hit.
One issue initially is that the cap space is not cleared until after the league year begins. That means the 49ers will need to clear a little bit of space between now and March 12. That is relatively easy for the 49ers through a multitude of options. They could elect to release David Akers or Parys Haralson. They could also work out a new contract with Justin Smith. And, they could do some basic re-working of contracts with some of their current players, pushing current cap hits into the future.
All reports now indicate the 49ers are unlikely to use the franchise tag on Dashon Goldson. The franchise tag would cost around $7,454,400 for one year, while a new deal likely would allow for a lower first year cap hit. They could very well agree to terms on a deal, and wait to sign it after the Smith trade becomes official. The additional space could also help in extending the likes of Delanie Walker and Ricky Jean Francois, and I know some people would like to see the space used to bring in a Darrelle Revis or Percy Harvin.
We'll see how the 49ers elect to use this modest windfall. No doubt this is a small increase, but it still will do all teams justice, and not just the 49ers.