The San Francisco 49ers announced on Tuesday that wide receiver Jerome Simpson will serve a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. The suspension is related to his 2014 arrest for marijuana possession and having an open container. He served a three-game suspension last season for a prior arrest, so this is an expected suspension given the context.
The first question from a lot of people was if the team would release Simpson as part of roster cuts. Normally I might say yes, but Trent Baalke's statement with the 49ers press release would seem to indicate Simpson will stick around. Here was Baalke's statement:
"The probability of a suspension was known when we signed Jerome. Since joining the 49ers, Jerome has proven to be a great teammate. Although he will not be able to participate in the first six weeks of the season, Jerome has done everything asked of him, both on and off the field. We are in full support of the NFL's decision, and look forward to Jerome's future contributions to our organization."
Baalke acknowledges the suspension was a possibility when they signed Simpson, but more importantly, he mentions that Simpson has done everything they have asked of him since the signing. My reading of this indicates he will remain on the team's roster when the regular season starts.
If the 49ers elect to hold onto him, they get a free roster spot during the suspension. Simpson would be placed on the team's Reserve/Suspended List. The team would not have to pay him, and he would not take up a spot on the 53-man roster.
Simpson is due $745,000 this season, and $885,000 next season. If Simpson had been on the 49ers 53-man roster for Week 1, his full $745,000 salary would have become guaranteed. However, by starting the season on the Reserve/Suspended list, his full season salary is not guaranteed.
Additionally, the team will not have to pay Simpson $262,941 of his salary. If he sticks around the rest of the season, that results in a cap hit of $532,059. This number comes from his $50,000 workout bonus, and $482,059 in base salary.