The San Francisco 49ers released outside linebacker Aldon Smith on Friday, cutting football ties with the troubled player. The team's decision to release Smith brings with it some pertinent salary cap implications. For those just looking for the number, the team will save $3,254,875 in cap space, and carry $1.6 million in dead money in 2015.
The past year has been an interesting one from a cap perspective with Aldon Smith. The 49ers restructured Smith's deal in March, turning it into non-guaranteed bonus and salary. Smith was due to earn a fully guaranteed $9,754,000 on his rookie option. However, before it became fully guaranteed, the base salary was lowered to $1 million, and the rest was turned into a workout bonus, offseason and regular season roster bonuses, and some incentives. Here was the breakdown of the deal:
Piggybacking off @AdamSchefter's report of 49ers LB Aldon Smith restructuring his deal, here are the details of it. pic.twitter.com/lBDcruwEIe— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 7, 2015
Over the last five months, the 49ers paid Smith $1.6 million. That included a $500,000 workout bonus, and five monthly roster bonuses totaling $1.1 million. That money is paid and cannot be recovered, thus it is the dead money figure listed above.
Aldon Smith could have earned up to $8,154,000 this season in salary and bonuses. None of that was guaranteed. The reason the 49ers do not get cap savings matching that total is due to the issue of "not likely to be earned incentives." Aldon Smith was suspended the first nine games of last season. Because of that, 7/16 of this year's game-day roster bonuses were listed as not likely to be earned incentives. That meant it did not count against the salary cap yet. It would have counted had Smith played those games, but because he will not play those games, it would never have counted.
And so, that leaves us with the $3,254,875 in cap space the 49ers save with the release of Aldon Smith. Jason Hurley updated our 2015 salary cap page following Smith's release. He lists the 49ers with $12,794,746 in cap space.