The San Francisco 49ers agreed to a one-year contract with Desmond Bishop on Thursday, and details are starting to come out. According to Aaron Wilson, the deal is worth $870,000, but for cap purposes, it will only count for $585,000. The 49ers currently have $7,326,660 in cap space, according to the NFLPA's public salary cap report.
The reason the contract will count for less against the cap is due to the minimum salary benefit. We discussed this several times last season, with regard to Eric Wright and Kassim Osgood. The minimum salary benefit is covered in Article 27 of the NFL CBA, and applies in the following situation:
1. A player with 4+ credited seasons
2. He signs a one year contract for the veteran minimum
3. The contract has no more than $65,000 in "additional compensation" (signing bonus, roster bonus, reporting bonus, incentives)
The benefit provides a better chance for some veterans to stick around a roster. If a player is likely only going to sign for at or near the league minimum, a team might be more inclined to just sign someone with less experience that would cost less based on the league minimum for credited time. The player will be paid as a veteran with however many years he has, but the cap hit will be that of a second year player earning the league minimum.
In the case of Bishop, he has eight years under his belt, which means the league minimum is $870,000. The league minimum for a second year player is $585,000. The savings is not a huge amount, but for a veteran looking for one more opportunity, it gives a team just a little more incentive to go with the veteran over the first or second year player.