A frequent question since the start of free agency has been how the rookie salary pool will impact the 49ers salary cap. The 49ers have the most draft picks of any NFL team this year, and given the volume of picks, they also have the largest rookie pool for signing those picks. The rookie pool is part of the regular salary cap, but for the present time, it is worth noting that a team does not have to be under the cap in the amount of the entire pool.
With help from Jason Hurley of Niner Cap Hell, we have been able to put together some useful information on the 49ers current cap situation. However, if you are looking for a solid NFL salary cap site that covers the entire league, I highly recommend Over the Cap. If you currently visit Spotrac, I recommend OTC over them.
I bring up Over the Cap because they have put together an estimate on the rookie pools for each team in the 2013 NFL Draft. Here is how they figured out their estimates:
These estimates are based on the assumption that the salary cap will not rise by enough to create a material impact on the NFL rookie pool and that the league will continue to institute a salary freeze on signing bonus money, rather than reducing it which seems to be their right under the current CBA.
I imagine the numbers will vary a little, but not enough that this isn't worth utilizing for our own educational purposes.
OTC has the 49ers with a Year One pool of $7,925,751. That is cap allocation, and not real dollars, so that means $7.9M+ in cap space.
Based on Jason Hurley's numbers, the 49ers have $4,602,571 in 2013 cap space. Obviously there is over a $3 million difference between that figure and the 49ers rookie cap space. It is important to note that the 49ers $4.6M in cap space is based on the Top 51 rule. The NFL takes the top 51 salaries and figures them out compared to the cap. The 49ers will draft an unknown number of players in April and some of those players will replace some of the current players in the Top 51. Those rookies will potentially have lower 2013 cap figures, swapping out higher numbers from the current Top 51.
OTC put together team-by-team breakdowns of the rookie pools, and you can look at all the details of the 49ers estimated pool. As NEBravesFan33 pointed out in this morning's Golden Nuggets, the 49ers would be looking at only a limited number of these picks surpassing salaries currently on the roster.
If we subtract the five picks worth of salaries for the first three rounds, that would leave the 49ers with approximately $700,000 in cap space. That limits the moves they could make moving forward. Of course, the 49ers also could work out some contract extensions that lower 2013 cap figures, creating more space for free agents. Either way, the 49ers are working with some fairly limited room at this point. These are just estimates, but given the numbers and the situation with the relative flat salary cap, these are likely going to be relatively close to the final numbers.