Assessing the San Francisco 49ers 2015 salary cap obligations

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers have significant salary obligations in 2015. In light of Colin Kaepernick's contract extension, we take a look at where the team stands for 2015, and what could be done to bring that number down.

The San Francisco 49ers took care of a significant piece of business when they inked quarterback Colin Kaepernick to a 6-year contract extension. The team has plenty of contract question marks to be dealt with, but getting Kap signed was important since it will likely remain the biggest cap figure on the books for some time.

In light of the Kap extension, people have been asking where the 49ers stand in 2015. There has been some discussion about the fact that the 49ers already have a lot of money owed to 2015 salaries. Based on my current numbers, the 49ers 2015 obligations include $148,289,754 in total salaries and dead money. Their Top 51 + dead money number is $143,154,285. The 2014 salary cap is set at $133 million. Even if we saw a $10 million raise in cap space, that would put the 49ers right over a $143 million cap. That could be a conservative cap estimate, or an overly aggressive estimate. Reports have the cap going up a sizable amount in 2015, and then potentially slowing down in growth in 2016 and beyond. We'll find out more next year.

Here is a rundown of the 49ers 2015 salary cap numbers. It includes the cap number, pro-rated bonus money, roster bonuses, workout bonuses and base salary. If you click on a player's name, it will take you to their cap page at Niner Cap Hell.

Name

Pos.

Signed

2015 Cap Number

Prorated

Roster

Workout

Base

Kaepernick, Colin

QB

2020

$15,265,753

$2,465,753

$2,000,000

$400,000

$10,400,000

Smith, Aldon

OLB

2015

$9,754,000

$0

$0

$0

$9,754,000

Willis, Patrick

ILB

2016

$8,736,750

$421,750

$750,000

$500,000

$7,065,000

Bowman, NaVorro

ILB

2018

$8,404,000

$2,954,000

$750,000

$0

$4,700,000

Brooks, Ahmad

OLB

2017

$8,350,000

$1,500,000

$750,000

$100,000

$6,000,000

Davis, Vernon

TE

2015

$7,019,920

$2,069,920

$400,000

$200,000

$4,350,000

Boldin, Anquan

WR

2015

$6,909,000

$909,000

$500,000

$0

$5,500,000

Davis, Anthony

RT

2019

$6,716,670

$3,366,670

$1,000,000

$0

$2,350,000

Smith, Justin

DE

2015

$6,436,668

$2,186,668

$1,600,000

$0

$2,650,000

Johnson, Stevie

WR

2016

$6,025,000

$0

$250,000

$275,000

$5,500,000

McDonald, Ray

DE

2015

$5,946,985

$1,746,985

$0

$100,000

$4,100,000

Staley, Joe

LT

2017

$5,200,000

$0

$500,000

$200,000

$4,500,000

Bethea, Antoine

SS

2017

$4,750,000

$1,250,000

$400,000

$100,000

$3,000,000

Dawson, Phil

PK

2015

$4,143,000

$1,000,000

$0

$0

$3,143,000

Brock, Tramaine

CB

2017

$3,050,000

$750,000

$320,000

$130,000

$1,850,000

Lee, Andy

P

2018

$2,550,000

$500,000

$0

$0

$2,050,000

Reid, Eric

FS

2016

$2,312,933

$1,136,955

$0

$0

$1,175,978

Kilgore, Daniel

C

2017

$1,937,500

$337,500

$800,000

$0

$800,000

Dahl, Craig

FS/SS

2015

$1,933,334

$233,334

$250,000

$50,000

$1,400,000

Boone, Alex

RG

2015

$1,790,000

$340,000

$200,000

$50,000

$1,200,000

Miller, Bruce

FB

2017

$1,746,500

$446,500

$160,000

$40,000

$1,100,000

Ward, Jimmie

SS/CB

2017

$1,616,483

$873,187

$0

$0

$743,296

Williams, Ian

NT

2015

$1,583,334

$333,334

$200,000

$50,000

$1,000,000

Carradine, Tank

DE

2016

$1,349,367

$494,578

$0

$50,000

$804,789

James, LaMichael

RB

2015

$1,056,013

$213,436

$0

$50,000

$792,577

Martin, Jonathan

OT

2015

$1,024,400

$0

$0

$0

$1,024,400

McDonald, Vance

TE

2016

$981,594

$249,396

$0

$100,000

$632,198

Hyde, Carlos

RB

2017

$836,745

$249,396

$0

$50,000

$537,349

Looney, Joe

LG/C

2015

$766,301

$106,301

$0

$0

$660,000

Bethel-Thompson, McLeod

QB

2015

$735,000

$0

$75,000

$0

$660,000

Lemonier, Corey

OLB

2016

$720,880

$135,880

$0

$0

$585,000

Martin, Marcus

C/LG

2017

$712,813

$167,813

$0

$20,000

$525,000

Borland, Chris

ILB

2017

$694,359

$154,359

$0

$10,000

$530,000

Patton, Quinton

WR

2016

$682,875

$97,875

$0

$0

$585,000

Thomas, Brandon

OG/OT

2017

$636,504

$126,504

$0

$0

$510,000

Dial, Quinton

NT/DE

2016

$630,413

$45,413

$0

$0

$585,000

Ellington, Bruce

WR

2017

$628,607

$118,607

$0

$0

$510,000

Moody, Nick

ILB

2016

$611,918

$26,918

$0

$0

$585,000

Johnson, Dontae

CB

2017

$610,136

$100,136

$0

$0

$510,000

McDermott, Kevin

LS

2015

$586,668

$1,668

$0

$0

$585,000

Lattimore, Marcus

RB

2016

$585,146

$75,146

$0

$0

$510,000

Carrier, Derek

TE

2015

$585,000

$0

$0

$0

$585,000

Morris, Darryl

CB

2015

$585,000

$0

$0

$0

$585,000

Wylie, Devon

WR

2015

$585,000

$0

$0

$0

$585,000

Hampton, Jewel

RB

2015

$585,000

$0

$0

$0

$585,000

Seymour, Ryan

OG

2015

$585,000

$0

$0

$0

$510,000

Lynch, Aaron

OLB

2017

$559,500

$49,500

$0

$0

$510,000

Reaser, Keith

CB

2017

$551,200

$41,200

$0

$0

$510,000

Acker, Kenneth

CB

2017

$540,150

$30,150

$0

$0

$510,000

Ramsey, Kaleb

DE

2017

$522,050

$12,050

$0

$0

$510,000

Millard, Trey

FB

2017

$521,787

$11,787

$0

$0

$510,000

Cleveland, Asante

TE

2016

$512,666

$2,666

$0

$0

$510,000

Skov, Shayne

ILB

2016

$512,500

$2,500

$0

$0

$510,000

McCray, L.J.

S

2016

$512,000

$2,000

$0

$0

$510,000

Farrell, Dillon

C

2016

$511,666

$1,666

$0

$0

$510,000

Fonoti, Fou

OG

2016

$511,666

$1,666

$0

$0

$510,000

Okoye, Lawrence

DE

2015

$511,000

$1,000

$0

$0

$510,000

Faulkner, Kory

QB

2016

$511,000

$1,000

$0

$0

$510,000

Schmidt, Colton

P

2015

$510,000

$0

$0

$0

$510,000

Bykowski, Carter

LT

2015

$510,000

$0

$0

$0

$510,000

Jacobs, Chuck

WR

2015

$510,000

$0

$0

$0

$510,000

Greene, Kevin

TE

2016

$510,000

$0

$0

$0

$510,000

Thomas, Chase

OLB

2015

$510,000

$0

$0

$0

$510,000

Purcell, Michael

NT

2015

$510,000

$0

$0

$0

$510,000

Escalators & De-escalators

The biggest issues could come from escalators. The most notable example is Colin Kaepernick. If the 49ers get to the Super Bowl and he plays 80 percent of the snaps, or if he is named 1st or 2nd team All Pro, each of his subsequent base salaries will increase by $2 million.

Right guard Alex Boone also has an escalator that could boost his salary as much as $1.05 million. It is based on 2014 play time. He was able to hit the escalator this past season, so if he does not hold out into this coming season, he would seemingly hit it again.

Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks has a $500,000 escalator based on playing. I believehe also has a $1.6 million de-escalator, which is, by my notes, tied to not reaching 12 sacks in the prior season.

Anthony Davis has de-escalators in his contract. He is due to make $2.35 million in base salary in 2015. His de-escalators could go as high as $1.25 million if he fails to complete 2015 workouts and/or weight requirements.

NaVorro Bowman has a $500,000 de-escalator, which is tied to workout participation. I am unsure at this moment if his base salary will de-escalate, since he is injured and can't fully participate in the workout program. I'll keep an eye out for more details on this one.

Potential cap cuts

The 49ers have a host of notable free agents potentially hitting the market next March. This includes wide receiver Michael Crabtree, left guard Mike Iupati, nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, and cornerback Chris Culliver. The 49ers still have time to get some deals done before the season starts, but one or more of these guys will probably hit the market next year.

Whether the 49ers re-sign these guys or not, the team will once again be looking for ways to trim the fat on the roster. They've built up some considerable depth, and it might be tested sooner rather than later. There are several veterans that still contribute, but might be released or traded to clear up some space.

Although Ray McDonald continues to contribute, he could end up a cap casualty. The chances only increase if Tank Carradine plays up to his potential sooner rather than later. McDonald has a $5,946,985 salary cap number for 2015, and if the 49ers chose to part ways, they could use a post-June 1st designation. McDonald has a 2016 voidable year left on his deal, so the 49ers could clear as much as $4.2 million with that type of release.

Craig Dahl is a definite salary cap cut candidate. He has a $1,933,334 cap number for 2015, and would save the team $1.7 million against the 2015 cap if he were released. He is not a lock for the 2014 roster, but the cap savings wouldn't change for 2015, since we are past the June 1st date.

LaMichael James, who has been a topic of many dicussions for a possible trade, has a $1,050,013 salary cap number in 2015. The team would save $842,577 with a trade or release. Again since he could be traded, the cap savings don't change for 2015.

Potential restructuring/extensions

As is often the case, the 49ers have several players they could work with to restructure or extend contracts, and thus create more cap room moving forward.

Patrick Willis has a 2015 cap figure of $8,736,750. He signed through the 2016 season, which could make him a perfect candidate for a contract etension that turns his $7.065 million base salary into the league minimum and replaces it with a signing bonus. A 2015 league minimum salary for Willis would be $870,000. Such a conversion could provide up to $4.956 million in cap savings. In the process, the 49ers would add on an extra 3 years, so the signing bonus would prorate over 5 years.

The 49ers could do similar things with Vernon Davis and Ahmad Brooks. Davis is due a 2015 base salary of $4.35 million, and has a cap figure of $7,019,920. He is a free agent after the 2015 season, and we know he is interested in a new contract. If the 49ers waited until after this season, they could do something similar to what they could do with Patrick Willis. They could reduce his $4.35 million base salary to $870,000, and potentially convert much of that different to a signing bonus. Brooks is due a base salary of $6 million in 2015, and has a cap figure of $8.35 million. Again, they could restructure his deal in a similar manner if they so chose.

The 49ers picked up Aldon Smith's 5th year option last month. The option is worth $9.754 million, and given that it's a 1-year deal, it would all hit on the 2015 cap. It remains to be seen how soon the 49ers will try and work out a new deal with Aldon Smith, although given his off-the-field issues, it would seem more likely to happen sometime next offseason at the earliest. The team could do something similar to the Kap deal in order to protect themselves. They could give him a $745,000 base salary, plus a $750,000 roster bonus, tied to the active game-day roster, and his signing bonus would be around $9.009 million, which would prorate to $1,801,800 over 5 years. This would provide savings of as much as $6,332,200 in 2015 cap space.

And of course, at some point the 49ers will likely end up restructuring Colin Kaepernick's new contract. He is due $10.4 million in 2015, but hopefully that number is up to $12.4 million because of a Super Bowl appearance in February. When the 49ers eventually do restructure his deal, they can again convert his base into league minimum money, and pay out a heft signing bonus. This is not something they can do every time given the future cap hell it can potentially create, but it is one of many tools at their disposal.

Potential retirements

The San Francisco 49ers have added some youthful depth in part because they have some older players potentially leaving the league sooner rather than later. A retired player does leave a dead money hit for prorated signing bonus money, but the team could go after some paid bonus money. The Dallas Cowboys appear to be looking into that with Kyle Orton's apparent retirement.

If the 49ers were to win the Super Bowl, that could very well open the door for some players to choose to retire. For example, Justin Smith has indicated he did not want to stick around if he was no longer starter quality. If he elected to hang up his cleats, the 49ers would save around $4.25 million in salary cap room.

Phil Dawson is scheduled to earn $3.143 million in base salary, and account for a $4.143 million salary cap figure in 2015. His retirement would save the team $2.643 million, but would leave the team without a reliable kicker. And given the size of that cap hit, it's also possible the 49ers could part ways or re-negotiate. He's getting up there in age, so it's hard to tell what his long-term plan is at this point.

Anquan Boldin is scheduled to earn $5.5 million in 2015 base salary, and account for $6.909 million against the cap. If he retired, the teamw ould save $3.273 million. But if the 49ers chose to simply release him, they could designate him a June 1st cut, and save $6 million once June 1 passed.

I hope this keeps everyone at peace, as there are definitely ways of making extra cap room. As always, contact me on twitter @Jay_AB81, or go to Niner Cap Hell.

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