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49ers cap space and cash spending looking ahead to 2017

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The San Francisco 49ers have a ton of cap space heading into the 2016 season. We look at that and ahead to 2017 for cash spending.

The San Francisco 49ers signed Kendall Gaskins to a 2-year contract on Monday, locking up the 90th spot. Gaskins is likely signed to a league minimum deal, which means he would not impact the team’s offseason cap space. The current cap numbers are based on the top 51 salaries. The team’s full roster (including practice squad and injury list players) has to be under the cap after final roster cuts in early September.

Earlier in the day, CSN Bay Area reporter Matt Maiocco took a look at the 49ers current cap situation. The team has $49,504,146 in cap space. The number comes courtesy of the NFLPA public salary cap report. The 49ers have the most cap space, with the Cleveland Browns second at $42,811,540.

Fooch and I thought it would be a great time to address the minimum cash spending limit rules that are in play for the 49ers. The most recent collective bargaining agreement included a spending requirement for each team. They must spend at least 89 percent of the combined salary caps for two sets of four years. The first period runs from 2013 to 2016, and the second set runs from 2017 to 2020. For the first period, the 49ers have met the minimum cash spending rule. The difference between cash spending and cap spending is primarily in things like signing bonuses. If the 49ers give a player a five year contract that includes a $10 million signing bonus, the number accounts differently in cap vs. cash. For cap purposes, a signing bonus is prorated over the life of the deal, or five years, whichever is less. For the $10 million example above, that means the cap hit would be $2 million per year. For cash spending, it all counts in the first year since the money is paid out immediately. So, the cash spending for a five year deal signed in 2016 is $10 million applied to 2016’s cash spending. There are no maximums on cash spending like there is on cap space.

The 49ers met the minimum spending requirement for 2013 to 2016. If the team had been short of the minimum spending for this cycle, they either needed to sign more players this offseason, or pay a penalty to the NFLPA that is then distributed to teams. We don’t know if that factored into the 49ers decision to not spend a lot of money this offseason, but it certainly is something to consider.

The next cycle starts next offseason when the 2017 league year starts. Once again, the 49ers will have to spend in cash, 89 percent of the combined salary caps between 2017-2020. We don’t know those cap numbers yet, but there are plenty of projections. Also remember that the salary cap limits are the unadjusted cap number, and not the adjusted, which accounts for extra credits, or any adjustments made for each teams salary cap. The 2016 unadjusted cap is $155,270,000, but the 49ers adjusted cap is $176,581,934.

The 2017 salary cap is not yet known, but Over The Cap currently projects it at $166 million. According to my numbers, right now the 49ers have $129,873,181 in committed cap space, with $107,367,417 committed in cash. The $22,505,764 is primarily signing bonuses (and potentially some option bonuses) that were paid out in previous seasons. The cash figure breaks down as follows:

Base Salaries: $96,670,664
Roster Bonuses: $8,044,253
Workout Bonuses: $2,652,500

Although the 49ers have $107,367,417 committed in cash spending, most of that is not fully guaranteed money. For example, if Colin Kaepernick is on the 49ers roster in 2017, the 49ers will owe him $14.5 million in base salary, a 16-game roster bonus of $2 million, and a $400,000 workout bonus. That adds up to $16.9 million in cash owed for the 2017 season. If the 49ers cut or trade Kap before the season, that $16.9 million is removed from the cash commitments, and thus does not count toward the 89 percent requirement.

We’ll take a look at the 49ers 2018, 2019, and 2020 cash commitments tomorrow. In the meantime, you can check out the 49ers 2017 cap information here.