The San Francisco 49ers made a not entirely shocking trade on Tuesday, dealing tight end Vance McDonald plus a fifth round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a fourth round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
McDonald signed a contract extension last December, marking one of the final roster decisions general manager Trent Baalke would make. The deal was for five years and worth up to $35 million, but as with virtually every NFL contract, it was worth considerably less. The deal was actually for three years and $19.7 million, with team options for years four and five. It included a $7 million signing bonus, which for cap purposes prorated to $1.4 million per season over the life of the deal.
For cap purposes, a trade right now operates like a post-June 1 roster cut. That means the 49ers would carry one season’s worth of dead money on the 2017 salary cap, and the remaining on the 2018 salary cap. McDonald’s $7 million signing bonus was paid in 2016, so the first year of proration was 2016. That means the 49ers will carry $1.55 million in dead money in 2017, and then $4.2 million in dead money in 2018. McDonald is owed a fully guaranteed $2.1 million this season, but the Steelers pick up that guarantee with the trade.
The 49ers clear $2,615,625 in cap space this year, $1.8 million next year (factors in the $4.2 million in dead money), $6.5 million in 2019, $7.8 million in 2020, and $6.4 million in 2021. The 49ers entered the day with $68.7 million in 2017 cap space, and now have just over $71 million in cap space.