I got some good news and some bad news.
I’ll start with the bad. We don’t need to go into another long post about how the San Francisco 49ers got unlucky with injuries this year. First Jerick McKinnon, then Jimmy Garoppolo, then the roster. Every week you’re left holding your breath that someone doesn’t get their season brought to an end.
Well, with all the injured reserve destinations, you may wonder just how much money the 49ers have on injured reserve. We have Over the Cap for that and the results may make you cringe. Sorry everyone, it gets better:
Most NFL contract value on IR, PUP, NFI— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) November 4, 2018
1. 49ers- $40.4M
2. Eagles- $29.8M
3. Seahawks- $28.1M
4. Falcons- $27.3M
5. Jaguars- $26.5M
6. Dolphins- $26.4M
7. Raiders- $22.3M
8. Panthers- $21.8M
Now some things to keep in mind. I believe that number is prorated because for the 2018 season, Jimmy Garoppolo’s cap hit was $37 million, and Jerick McKinnon’s was $6 million. We would subtract unpaid in-season roster bonus money from each of them, but it would still come out to more than $40.4 million. Whatever the case, there’s a lot of money just between those two on the IR books. Brock Coyle is next at $2,050,000
Ok, so now the good news. You want to know salary cap space for 2019? Well the folks at Over The Cap got that covered too:
Most estimated cap room in 2019 (based on estimated $190M cap, 51 man roster and estimated carryover)— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) November 4, 2018
1. Colts- $118.6M
2. Jets- $95.6M
3. Browns- $85.4M
4. Bills- $84.7M
5. Texans- $68.2M
6. 49ers- $67.6M
7. Raiders- $63.6M
8. Cardinals- $60.1M
The 49ers are no longer at the top of the list as far as salary cap spending, but the top-10 is a nice place. This means they have the means to pay some players (like DeForest Buckner) and get some more free agents to fill those pesky holes.
Given that the 49ers are overhauling Trent Baalke’s roster, the excess of cap space is not surprising. It’s been some lean years in the draft, and so the team has not had much talent to extend beyond rookie deals. This offseason brings the first opportunity to extend Buckner and Ronald Blair. Arik Armstead is finishing his fourth year and the team needs to decide if they want to bring him back on his fifth year option. They also face some pressing questions about their trio of specialists with Bradley Pinion, Kyle Nelson, and Robbie Gould all hitting free agency in the spring.
Money is not a concern, and won’t be for the foreseeable future. The 49ers have a ton of space even with Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract, and the cap has been steadily climbing. January and February could shake up the team’s cap space heading into 2019 free agency. They won’t extend all the players mentioned above, but they have room to handle some business if they so choose.
The 49ers decision-making will be plenty influenced by how the front office and coaching staff view the team’s playoff chances in 2019. They will get Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon back from injured reserve, and potentially have a top five or ten pick that could net a serious impact pass rusher or cornerback. Is that the time to dive in with some big free agency pick-ups, or do they let it ride with much of what they have in 2019, and then make the big push in 2020? Or maybe some combination of both?