Earlier this week, Matt Barrows reported the San Francisco 49ers had reached out to Alex Boone in hopes of ending their stalemate. They were reportedly unsuccessful in their efforts, and thus the fines continue to pile up for Boone. The 49ers are likely not physically collecting the money at this point, but the fines and other assorted financial issues will be another thing that needs to be figured out if Boone is going to return to the 49ers.
Earlier in camp we took a look at some of the financial and salary cap implications of Boone's holdout. I wanted to go back through some of that to figure out what the financial issues are at this point. This includes fines, and potential signing bonus money.
Fines: The 49ers can fine Boone $30,000 a day for each day he is absent. The 49ers were already able to fine him a total of $69,455 for skipping the team's 3-day mandatory minicamp. To date (if Boone does not report on Friday), that means the 49ers are able to fine Boone $369,455.
Signing bonus: Earlier this week, we passed the sixth day of Boone's holdout. On the sixth day, the 49ers are allowed to start recouping a prorated portion of Boone's signing bonus. Boone received a $1.7 million signing bonus when he signed his current deal back in late 2011. Boone signed a 5-year deal, so the 2014 prorated portion of his signing bonus is $340,000. The 49ers could recoup 15 percent of that bonus at day 6 ($51,000), and then 1 percent ($3,400) for each day thereafter. That can go up to a maximum of 25 percent of the bonus for training camp. If Boone does not report Friday, that total will be up to $64,600 in potentially recouped bonus money.
Future: Moving forward into the regular season, the 49ers do not have to pay him game checks, and they can continue recouping on his signing bonus. The most they can recover of the signing bonus for the entire season is $340,000.
As of now, Boone is facing $369,455 in fines, and $64,600 in recouped signing bonus money. The signing bonus recouped would save the 49ers that cap space. I have not been able to figure out what happens with the fine money. I'm almost certain it does not impact the salary cap, but I don't know if the 49ers could collect the cash, or if it goes to charity like league fines during the season.
If the two sides come to some kind of agreement that gets Boone back to the team, the 49ers do not necessarily need to collect on the fines. And oftentimes fines will be forgiven and money will not be recouped. There is currently conflicting information about whether or not the Seahawks will forgive the fines imposed on Marshawn Lynch. I doubt we will hear what does end up happening.
At this point, the Boone situation does not appear to have an end in sight. The 49ers recently cleared some cap space, but nothing has happened since. We have two parties that seem to be fairly dug in. Alex Boone seemingly wants a new deal before he will return to camp, while the 49ers seemingly do not want to negotiate a new deal until Boone returns to camp. I say "seemingly" because in reality we don't know what the two sides really want", nor what has been discussed in recent days. We have to take any news with a grain of salt because it will always be from anonymous third parties.
Nonetheless, one or both sides will have to "lose face" in this situation. The Seahawks appeared to have made at least a little bit of lemonade from their lemons. Lynch apparently got a restructured contract that guaranteed more money, but it did not require the Seahawks give Lynch any "new" money. In the case of Boone, this kind of thing won't work. There is a very good chance Lynch is released after this season to clear cap space. Boone was not going to be released if he stayed with his current deal. The 49ers would need to give Boone new money to get any kind of deal done.
The Seahawks have create a modest precedent by giving Lynch more money now, but it's not like they signed him to an extension and added new money. I don't see a similar middle ground for the 49ers and Boone, and that's why it would not surprise me if the 49ers traded him at some point. The only way this ends with Boone returning is somebody backing down. It could happen, but there is nothing to indicate it will. The 49ers could wait for Boone to come back late in the season to get his credit for the season (just needs 3 or more games for credit). But if Looney is playing well, why mess with offensive line chemistry? The only other way the 49ers acquiesce is if Looney and Snyder (and maybe Jonathan Martin and/or Marcus Martin) are playing poorly at right guard and it forces the 49ers hand. Otherwise, I could very well see a trade happening.