Yesterday afternoon, a deadline passed of which many of us were unaware. Prior to 1 p.m. PT yesterday, the salary cap requires teams Top 51 contracts to fit underneath the current team-adjusted cap figure. As of 1 p.m. yesterday, teams had to have their entire roster, active and otherwise under the team-adjusted cap figure.
The applicable 49ers players include the 53 men on the active roster, the eight-man practice squad, Demarcus Dobbs on the Reserve/Suspended List, five players on injured reserve, two on Reserve/PUP and five on Reserve/NFI. All told,t hat is 74 players under contract for the 49ers.
As the roster currently sits, without any credits (to be discussed later), I have the 49ers at $2,509,918 under the salary cap. Matt Maiocco tweeted the number at $2.4 million, with the difference potentially related to injury settlements.
You likely assumed based on previous reports that the 49ers were $8+ million under the cap. However, that was based on the NFLPA's Top 51 league report. The extra 23 players under contract are the reason for the decline.
The 49ers will get a credit for Demarcus Dobbs's suspension, in the form of a one-game check credit of $32,647. Additionally, Michael Crabtree has a $500,000 roster bonus, which is due in the form of 16 game checks when he is part of the 46-man active roster. As we know, Crabtree is on Reserve/PUP. If Crabtree misses the minimum 6 games, the 49ers gain $31,250 per game, or $187,500 for 6 games. If he misses nine games, that number climbs to $281,250. If he misses the entire season, the 49ers would gain the full $500,000 roster bonus. You can do the math in between.
There could be a point in the season where the 49ers will gain cap room in other areas. The team has several players on the PUP or NFI lists who could come back and replace a player on the 53 man roster. Additionally, after week 1, the 49ers need to make a decision on Dobbs and the 53-man roster. The team could decide Tony Jerod-Eddie or Will Tukuafu can replace him. We'll find out next week.
If/when players like Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, and Eric Wright come back, the 49ers will start to clear out some more space. Also note that the 49ers have to guarantee the salaries of players with at least 4-years service in the NFL. So don't expect the 49ers to eat unnecessary cap space, just to get one of the injured players activated.
This means, whether you like it or not, a guy like Raymond Ventrone is here to stay. Guys who make $405,000 (1st year minimum), $480,000 (2nd year minimum), $555,000 (3rd year minimum), or $630,000(4th year minimum), are the ones to watch to be cut to get the injured players back on the roster. And of course we may, or likely will see injuries, so it may make it easier to bring someone back.
Here is a list of players to watch as cut candidates (with salaries in parenthesis. Among others, this includes QB Colt McCoy (if B.J. Daniels out performs him, or they think John Skelton is a better option), RB Anthony Dixon ($630,000), WR Marlon Moore ($630,000), WR Kyle Williams ($630,000), TE Chris Harper ($405,000), TE Garrett Celek ($480,000), DE Tony Jerod-Eddie ($405,000), DE Will Tukuafu ($555,000), ILB Nate Stupar ($405,000), CB Tramaine Brock ($1.323 million, is entering his 4th season, and could be expendable if Eric Wright comes back), and CB Perrish Cox ($555,000, I doubt he would be considered, but you never know, as Vic Fangio apparently loves Brock).
I don't expect guys like RBs Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James, WR Quinton Patton, OL Joe Looney, OLB Corey Lemonier, ILBs Michael Wiloite and Nick Moody, LS Kevin McDermott, mainly because they are key backups or starters at their respective positons.
Also don't expect any surprise cuts, like WR Jon Baldwin (he has a guaranteed salary). Others, such as NaVorro Bowman are superstars, and have guaranteed base salaries, even for a 4th-year player. Ian Williams, who makes $555,000, recently signed an extension, and to my knowledge has his base salary guaranteed. Of course guys like QB Colin Kaepernick, FB Bruce MIller, and backup C Daniel Kilgore will not be cut, for obvious reasons.
I cannot guarantee a restructure of someone's contract, but it could happen within the next few weeks to help with the cap. One very specific possibility is Anquan Boldin, with some scuttlebutt that he wanted an extension before leaving Baltimore. The 49ers could reduce his 2013 cap figure with an extension on this final $ 6 million year.
For the most part, however, I wouldn't worry too much about the cap situation. The 49ers are always on top of this matter. And Trent Baalke, and the rest of the front office have this taken care of.
We will be focused on 2013 season for the next five months, but there are plenty of contracts coming due. I thought I would take a quick look into the next 3 seasons, following 2013. This is a look at notable contracts due, and potential cap space.
For 2014, the 49ers have 49 players signed, with just under $7 million in cap room. But don't worry, there are de-escalators in some deals, including potentially Ahmad Brooks, for not reaching certain amount of playing time, plus sack totals of under 12 total sacks. Anthony Davis has some weight requirements, and NaVorro Bowman supposedly has them, but I am unsure at the moment how they apply
This coming offseason is also when the 49ers can negotiate contract extensions with 2011 NFL Draft picks. This includes Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Daniel Kilgore, Kendall Hunter, Chris Culliver, and Bruce Miller. And of course, the team can already negotiate extensions for Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati and Tarell Brown, among others.
For 2015, the 49ers have 30 players signed, leaving approximately $37.692 million in cap room, and potential extensions looming for Colin Kaepernick, Aldon Smith, Michael Crabtree, Chris Culliver, Mike Iupati, Bruce Miller, Kendall Hunter, and Daniel Kilgore, among others. Also note, that Aldon Smith has a 5th-year team option for the 2015 season. So he is locked up through 2015, but at the rate of a top 10 OLB salary.
After the 2014 season, the 49ers can also negotiate with their 2012 picks. Of course, given how that draft class has shaped up, that leaves the team with LaMichael James, Joe Looney and Darius Fleming. Also Jon Baldwin has a team option, for top 25 money, which would be set from 3rd-25th money. This is of course if he produces and becomes a valuable player.
And lastly for 2016, we have 15 players signed, with available cap room of $77.493 million. We also have decision on whether to bring back some guys, like Vernon Davis, Ray McDonald, and possibl a further extension for Patrick Willis. Also remember Eric Reid has a team option for 2017, and they can begin working on contract extensions for the 2013 draft class.
Also one tidbit on 2014, I expect a pay cut or complete cut of Carlos Rogers, due to salary, and production. Also Frank Gore will likely take a reduction, which will help in securing the services of a guy like Kaepernck, or Iupati.
I feel the most difficult signing is going to be Crabtree. He is injured, but he may have his eye set on Mike Wallace money, near $60 million, over 5-years. There has been no word on contract extension talks, although the Achilles injury likely shelved any potential talks for now.
I hope this helps ease everyone. While the 49ers have plenty of contracts to deal with in the near future, the franchise has worked themselves into a decent enough cap situation. It can always be worse. Consider that the Oakland Raiders have tens of millions of dollars in dead money sitting on this year's cap. Consider, the San Diego Chargers just released Robert Meachem, requiring a dead money hit of $6.875 million. It can always be worse!