The San Francisco 49ers will head into free agency with a ridiculous amount of cap space. They currently have approximately $80 in cap space, and some roster shuffling could push that number up near or over $100 million. We have seen teams starting to release veterans, and the 49ers have several players they could move on from to clear additional space.
Any team can clear a lot of cap space in a hurry, but usually it involves cutting a player the team would never cut at that point in their career. However, with the 49ers entering a complete rebuilding process, there are very few players that would qualify as “safe” from being cut or traded.
With all that in mind, here are some of the more notable players that could be released or traded. Below the name is 2017 cap hit, and then cap savings based on each type of cut. A trade is the same as a pre-June 1 cut, so they are listed together.
Note: All cap figures are taken from OverTheCap.com.
QB Colin Kaepernick
2017 cap hit: $19,365,753
Any type of cut or trade: $16.9 million
Odds are pretty good he opts out of his contract, in which case the 49ers still clear $16.9 million. If he chooses not to opt out, it is possible the team would still choose to release him and clear the cap space. However, if he does not opt out, would that be indicative of the two sides having discussed a future together? I have figured he would be gone, but considering meetings are planned between Kaepernick, John Lynch, and Kyle Shanahan, it leaves open the door that something
WR Torrey Smith
2017 cap hit: $9,475,000
Pre-June 1 cut OR Trade: $4,675,000
June 1 cut: $7,875,000
There were rumors the team would trade Smith to the Eagles last year, but nothing materialized. The team is woefully thin at wide receiver, and with a solid option opposite him, Smith could be a great deep threat in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. But if we are going to see a complete rebuilding of the offense, maybe Smith gets moved. If anything happens, I think a trade is a lot more likely than a straight cut.
S Antoine Bethea
2017 cap hit: $7,000,000
Any type of cut or trade: $5.75 million
The 49ers got a strong year out of Antoine Bethea in 2014, but then an injury-shortened 2015. He took a step back in 2016, and with the 49ers potentially making changes on defense, Bethea seems like a logical candidate to be released. He is entering the final year of his deal, so there are significant cap implications after this season. They don’t need the cap space, but if they want to get younger in this rebuilding process, Bethea could be cut.
OLB Ahmad Brooks
2017 cap hit: $6,148,750
Any type of cut or trade: $5.3 million
I can’t remember the last offseason we were not talking about Ahmad Brooks as a potential cap casualty. Year in and year out, he continues to stick around, and he has remained one of the more productive members of the defense. The bar has been incredibly low the past two seasons, but he has been a guy from whom the 49ers can get some pass rushing, some coverage, and some run defense. Of course, he also comes with the usual offsides penalties, but you take the bad with the good.
The 49ers are expected to switch to a hybrid 4-3 Under defense, and that could result in a over for Brooks. He could be a defensive end or strong-side outside linebacker. For the X offseason in a row, I think the 49ers go younger.
OG Zane Beadles
2017 cap hit: $3,533,333
Pre-June 1 cut OR Trade: $2,366,666
June 1 cut: $2.95 million
Zane Beadles was Trent Baalke’s lone “major” free agent signing last offseason. On the one hand, he was able to fill in all around the offensive line as injuries accumulated. On the other hand, he is just not a very good option. Sort of a jack of all trades, master of none. He is a good utility option, but not somebody who is a longterm answer. The 49ers have Joshua Garnett at one guard position, and could potentially send Andrew Tiller out there. I don’t know how if that will work especially well in Shanahan’s blocking scheme, but it’s an option.