The San Francisco 49ers were incredibly busy on the first day of free agency, with their most notable free agent moves including signing safety Antoine Bethea, and re-signing Phil Dawson. The new league year also means teams can start making trades, and the 49ers were not shy on Day 1. They traded a 6th round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for quarterback Blaine Gabbert, and they followed that up by dealing a 2015 conditional 7th round pick to the Miami Dolphins for offensive lineman Jonathan Martin.
We're still waiting on specifics for the various free agent contracts, but for now we know what the deals are for the acquired players. There's a lot to be figured out for salary cap purposes, but this can give you a basic idea. The 49ers had a little over $16 million in cap space with the release of Carlos Rogers, so we can tentatively subtract from that number.
According to Jay over at Niner Cap Hell, the 49ers currently have $7,869,710 in cap space. This reflects the trades for Gabbert and Martin, and the tenders to Dobbs and Wilhoite. We do not yet have numbers for the various free agency signings. That means this number does not reflect the signings of Phil Dawson, Antoine Bethea, and Eric Wright. Additionally, Carlos Rogers was designated a June 1st cut, so even though he's no longer on the roster, the 49ers do not clear that $6.6 million in cap space until June 1.
The 49ers acquired the former tenth overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft in exchange for a sixth round pick. The 49ers had observed Blaine Gabbert at Missouri's Pro Day, and ended up grabbing Mizzou defensive end Aldon Smith in the draft. Obviously that worked out OK.
In acquiring Blaine Gabbert, they get him at the end of his rookie deal. Technically there is a fifth year option available, but they will not exercise that option. They have their quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, and even if Gabbert showed a ton of improvement, he wouldn't be worth the transition tender for quarterbacks.
Heading into this season, the Jacksonville Jaguars were going to pay him $2,011,587 in base salary. His salary cap hit would have been $3,818,705 because of the remaining prorated signing bonus. With this trade, the Jaguars will have $1,807,118 in dead money from that proration, and the 49ers will owe him the base salary. As I understand it, his 2014 base salary is guaranteed.
Matt Maiocco is reporting the team is looking to renegotiate the base salary. I don't know if that means requiring a straight pay cut, or offering him a modest extension (maybe a two or three year deal?) to work with him behind Kap. Given that his salary is guaranteed, the 49ers don't have a ton of leverage. Of course, Gabbert knows his career choices aren't great right now, so maybe he decides to get some extra time with "Jim Harbaugh: Quarterback Whisperer"?
2014 salary cap hit: $2,011,587 (subject to a restructuring or renegotiation)
Adam Schefter reported last night that the trade for Martin involved the 49ers sending a conditional 2015 seventh round pick. Apparently it is conditional on Martin making the 49ers 53-man roster the opening week of the 2014 season. If he shows enough, that's great. If he does not, this basically would appear to amount to a free tryout for the 49ers. I don't see how anybody can complain about this deal from that perspective.
From a cap perspective, the 49ers come out in fine shape whatever they decide to do with Martin. As it currently stands, Martin is signed through the 2015 season. His base salaries the next two seasons are $824,933 and $1,042,400. He has prorate signing bonus money hitting the cap, but because he was traded, that should only impact the Dolphins cap.
As I understand it, neither of the base salaries are guaranteed. That would seem to mean that the 49ers could release him at any point between now and the end of the contract, and not be on the hook for any dead money. If he is able to become that swing tackle, or potentially even moves inside to guard to maybe replace Mike Iupati down the road, this is a winner. If he can't beat out Adam Snyder or Luke Marquardt or Carter Bykowski in camp, they cut him and it costs them nothing. how is this not win-win?
2014 salary cap hit: $824,922 (non-guaranteed)
2015 salary cap hit: $1,042,400 (non-guaranteed)