We are now less than a week away from the beginning of the new league year in the NFL, and that means all 32 teams must be under the salary cap. The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a $133 million this past weekend, which provides a $10 million boost over the 2013 cap. This is also the first time the cap exceeds any cap from prior to the current CBA.
The 49ers still have time to sign their own free agents, but come Saturday, the negotiation period begins. With that in mind, here is a breakdown of how the 49ers are situated from a cap standpoint.
It's been a busy week of transactions for the 49ers. Over the last week, the team has executed four transactions. All are important in some form or fashion. These moves include restructuring the contracts of wide receiver Jon Baldwin and safety Craig Dahl, signing center Daniel Kilgore to a 3-year extension, and signing wide receiver Anquan Boldin to a 2-year contract.
For the Baldwin restructure, the 49ers cut his $1.4 million salary cap number down to $645,000. This the league minimum for Baldwin's tenure, and in the process it saves over $755,000. The 49ers put that amount in incentives, but those are unlikely to be earned. He would need to win a roster spot, and most likely a starting spot to hit those.
For Dahl's deal, the 49ers cut his $1.35 million base salary down to $825,000. They also his roster bonus down to $175,000. This saves the team $600,000.
Kilgore signed a 3-year extension, worth around $5.9 million, with a $1.35 million signing bonus. The deal includes a guaranteed base salary of $645,000 for 2014. He has a 2015 roster bonus of $600,000, due on April 1, 2015, and then has $200,000 in game-day roster bonuses in each of 2015, 2016 and 2017. There are also $900,000 in salary escalators in each of 2016 and 2017.
Finally, on Monday the 49ers re-signed WR Anquan Boldin to a 2-year deal, worth $12 million, with a reported $8.5 million guaranteed. He gets a full guarantee on his $4.545 million signing bonus, and his 2014 base salary of $955,000 (veteran minimum). He is tentatively scheduled to earn $5.5 million in 2015 base salary. Of that, $3 million is guaranteed immediately for injury. That $3 million becomes fully guaranteed on April 1, 2015. Aside from the guaranteed money, Boldin can earn $500,000 in game-day roster bonuses in each of 2014 and 2015.
Following these moves, the 49ers are approximately $9.754 million under the salary cap for 2014.
The 49ers currently have the following players unsigned for 2014:
QB Colt McCoy
RB Anthony Dixon
WR Mario Manningham
WR Kassim Osgood
C Jonathan Goodwin
DE Demarcus Dobbs
ILB Michael Wilhoite
CB Tarell Brown
CB Perrish Cox
CB Eric Wright
SS Donte Whitner
PK Phil Dawson
While it isn't guaranteed, Phil Dawson is a player most of us expect back for 2014. And I expect the deal to be in the 1-year, $2.5 million range.
I expect Wilhoite to be tendered as a exclusive rights free agent, which would be a 1-year, $570,000 tender. I do not expect the 49ers to tender either of their restricted free agents, Dobbs and Cox, but both could be back on 1-year, $645,000 deals.
I expect Whitner to ask for a deal in the $5 million a year range, while Brown might be asking for more than what Tramaine Brock got back during the 2013 season. In case you missed it back in November, here is a rundown of Brock's 4-year, $16 million extension.
The most notable player who will either be asked to take a pay cut, or be released is Carlos Rogers. He currently has the highest cap number for 2014, at $8,094,531. If the 49er released him, they would save $5,105,459. This would leave $2,989,062 in dead money for 2014, but would clear over $9 million in salary cap room in 2015. If the 49ers chose to designate Rogers with a June 1 cut, the savings for 2014 would be $6.6 million, but the 49ers wouldn't see the money until June 1. So I expect them to either cut him soon, or work out a pay cut.
2015 salary cap situation
The 2014 salary cap is the most important thing to deal with now, but the 49ers plans heading toward 2015 require some examination as well. Estimates on 2015 range between $140 million and $143 million. We saw a $10 million increase this year, so we'll see if another $10 million follows in 2015.
Currently, the current highest cap number is $9,094,531 for Carlos Rogers. Even if the 49ers did nothing with Rogers' contract, that would be surpassed by the team's 5th-year option for OLB Aldon Smith. Under the current CBA, the 49ers signed Smith to a 4-year contract with a club option for a fifth year. They have until May 3, 2014 to pick up the option, and it would equal the transition tag amount for an outside linebacker, which is set at $9.754 million.
With the Boldin re-signing, and assuming Aldon Smith's option is picked up and Carlos Rogers is still on the books, the 49ers have a projected $23,118,164 in cap room. The team has quite a few notable free agents next season. These players include:
TE Garrett Celek (RFA)
WR Michael Crabtree
CB Chris Culliver
NT Glenn Dorsey
RB Frank Gore
RB Kendall Hunter
LG Mike Iupati
DT Tony Jerod-Eddie (ERFA)
QB Colin Kaepernick
FB Bruce Miller
OLB Dan Skuta
OG Adam Snyder
SS C.J. Spillman
S Raymond Ventrone
Colin Kaepernick is in the middle of contract negotiations. He is due to make $973,766 in 2014. After that, if he does not have a new contract, the 49ers can elect to let him walk as a free agent, or utilize their franchise tag. For 2014, the non-exclusive quarterback franchise tag includes a one-year tender of $16,912,000. The exclusive franchise tag is worth the greater of the average of the top five quarterbacks, or the amount of the non-exclusive tender.
The non-exclusive tender It will likely climb north of $18 million in 2015. The 49ers could then elect to franchise him again in 2016 with a further boost, but maintain control for the next three seasons.
Bruce Miller is reportedly in the midst of contract negotiations. Other than that, I suspect Hunter, Dorsey, Skuta, Spillman and Culliver all likely to be left waiting until after the 2014 season to get new contracts.
I want to make a note that the 49ers signed 13 players prior to the beginning of the offseason to reserve/future deals, 11 of which were signed to 2-year deals, and those 11 players account for $6.135 million. I don't expect anywhere near all those 11 to be on the 2014 roster.
If you take that $6.135 million, plus Rogers $9,094,531 million from a release, the 49ers could go from $23,118,164 in cap space up to $38,302,695 in cap room. And this is of course without any other deals. They'll need money for their 2015 draft picks, and that should end up somewhere around the $5 million range for those who make the roster.
Once the 2014 season ends, the 49ers 2012 draft class will be eligible for new contracts. The 2012 class has not been a good one, but the team has some things to consider. The remaining class includes RB LaMichael James, OG Joe Looney, and OLB Darius Fleming. I doubt Fleming and James see new deals. Looney would likely get a new deal, based on versatility, and the uncertain future of Mike Iupati.
In my opinion, I expect Kaepernick to received a deal in the range of $17 million to $18 million a year, while Crabtree could command up to $10 million a year, and Iupati in the $8 million a year range.
For updated cap tables, check out the links below.