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Edit: Joe Staley restructures contract, does not clear space

The San Francisco 49ers already have a lot of cap space. Now they have even more due to a change in Joe Staley's contract.

Fooch's update: Welp, so much for the cap space

The San Francisco 49ers apparently decided they want a little more cap space this year! ESPN's Dianna Russini is reporting Joe Staley has restructured his contract. Staley was due $5.4 million in base salary this year, and Russini is reporting he is turning $4 million of that into a signing bonus.

Staley was set to have a cap hit of $8.3 million this season. It is possible there were other adjustments to the contract, but for now, the change cuts that figure to $5.3 million. $4 million in base salary all hits the same year, whereas a signing bonus is prorated over the life of the deal, or five years, whichever is lower. Staley has four years remaining on his deal, so this would seem to mean it goes from $4 million in cap space to $1 million in cap space each of the next four seasons.

Staley was already scheduled to have a 2017 cap hit of $11.15 million. Barring other contract adjustments, his cap hit increases to $12.15 million. I am not entirely sure why the 49ers are doing this, unless they have plans to dip more heavily into free agency than we might otherwise expect. They could do some additional contract extensions as well, but again, they already have serious cap space. They were already looking at $55 million in space after the Celek deal, and it would not decrease much more with the Dial deal.

What do you think this means?