Now that the Super Bowl is over, we have some time to begin focusing on the 49ers salary cap situation heading into the new league year. The 49ers are currently sitting approximately $2.1 million under the salary cap. While they can get some things done with that money, they will be looking to find more space where they can. They can renegotiate contracts, but expect them to consider releasing players as well.
Starting today, we're going to take a look at some of these potential cut candidates. We'll do a post on each player, looking at their recent performance and what a release would mean from a cap and roster perspective. Today we will start with struggling kicker David Akers.
As we all know, Akers had a pretty down year, completing 29 of 42 field goals, after a year where he made a NFL record 44 out of 52. He was 4 of 5 in the postseason, although a running into the kicker penalty negated a second miss. While his postseason wasn't awful, odds seem pretty good the team will look in another direction at the kicker position.
Currently, Akers is looking at a 2013 cap figure of $3,616,667. That number consists of $3 million in base salary, $50,000 from a Pro Bowl incentive, and $566,667 in prorated signing bonus money. If the 49ers cut Akers, their 2013 cap would still have to absorb the $566,667 prorated signing bonus, but they would be off the hook for $3.05 million.
Even if the 49ers do not release Akers, I think they at least ask him to take a pay cut. They could then bring in competition via another free agent or a rookie. However, considering the 49ers salary cap situation, I think the team will be releasing the disappointing Akers, and save the $3.05 million in cap room.
I would expect the 49ers to look for his replacement in the draft, with the recent success of Blair Walsh in Minnesota, I expect them to draft a kid like Florida State's Dustin Hopkins, or Florida's Caleb Sturgis.
Some of the potential free agent kickers include Phil Dawson, Josh Brown, Mike Nugent, Jason Hanson, Shayne Graham, Nate Kaeding, Lawrence Tynes, Nick Folk, Steven Hauschka and Rob Bironas
Basically what it comes down to is whether the 49ers feel comfortable with Akers rehabbing and being healthy, or they move on. Either way the 49ers need consistency at the kicker spot. They could go the free agency route, but with so many draft picks at their disposal, drafting a long-term option seems the more viable alternative.