Aldon Smith option year set with release of 2014 NFL salary cap figure

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The new NFL salary cap also means we know the option year salary for Aldon Smith if the 49ers elect to pick up the option.

The NFL and NFLPA settled on the 2014 NFL salary cap, and have since informed teams of $133 million figure. Teams will have to get their Top 51 under the figure for now, and then the entirety of their roster when we get to the 2014 season. Jason Hurley mentioned in the comments of a recent post that the 49ers currently have $13.2 million in cap space following the Daniel Kilgore extension.

The official release of the salary cap also means we know the franchise tag and transition tag tender amounts. The 49ers will not use either tag, but the transition number also determines the potential fifth year option for Aldon Smith. The 49ers selected Smith in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. It was the first year of the rookie salary cap, which set four year contracts for all rookies. Each team with a first round pick holds a team option for a fifth year. For the first ten picks of the first round, that option value equals the transition tag tender for the position at which the player played in his third year.

Aldon Smith plays at the linebacker position. The linebacker transition tag is set at $9,754,000. The 49ers have until May 3 to decide on the option. If they elect to exercise the option, the salary immediately becomes guaranteed for injury only. The option salary will be guaranteed for injury, skill and cap-related termination if Smith is on the 49ers 53-man roster at the start of the player's fifth League Year (i.e., the option year).

The 49ers are allowed to start negotiating with Smith for a new contract, but given his off-the-field problems, it makes sense to exercise the option and hold off on working out a new deal. They could roll the dice that he'll be fine, or they could wait another year since the option means he wouldn't enter his walk season for another year.

The 49ers will not have to deal with a fifth year option for their 2012 first round pick (whoops!), but it will pick back up with the 2013 draft in a couple years when they get the same decision with Eric Reid. For those wondering, the option for picks 11 through 32 is determined through something a little bit different than the straight transition tag tender. That numbers comes from Article 7, Section 7, Sub-section (f):

[T]he Paragraph 5 Salary for the player's Fifth-Year Option shall equal an amount that would apply in the fourth League Year of the Rookie Contract if one calculated the Transition Tender for that League Year by using the same methodology as set forth in Article 10, Section 4, but using the applicable third through twenty-fifth highest Salaries (as "Salary" is defined in Article 10) (as opposed to the ten highest Salaries) for players at the position at which the Rookie participated in the most plays during his third League Year.

This does not apply for a couple years, but I figured it's at least worth a mention.

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