The San Francisco 49ers have had some extensive cap space the past few seasons, and they were aggressive in how they chose to use it in 2018. The team gave out signing bonuses to some players, but some of their bigger contracts used roster bonuses in year one. Both are paid out up front, but the difference comes in cap account. A signing bonus prorates over the life of a contract (or five years, whichever is shorter) for cap purposes, while a roster bonus impacts the cap only on the year it is paid.
The biggest contract the 49ers executed last year was Jimmy Garoppolo’s extension in February. He signed a five-year contract worth up to $137.5 million. The $27.5 million per year was the highest APY at the time of signing, but has since been surpassed by Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, and Aaron Rodgers.
The contract included a $7 million signing bonus, and a $28 million roster bonus. All the numbers together combined for a cap hit of $37 million in year one. It was the largest cap figure in the NFL, with Matthew Stafford’s $26.5 million coming in second. However, as we move into year two, Garoppolo’s cap hit drops significantly, to $19,350,000. That ranks 22nd among quarterbacks this season. Here’s the ranking of the top 23 quarterback contracts by 2019 cap hit.
You can go through the QB cap hits to see how Garoppolo measures up the remaining years of his contract.
2020: $26.6 million — 7th behind Aaron Rodgers ($32.6 million), Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins, Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco
2021: $26.9 million — 4th behind Matt Ryan ($34.3 million), Aaron Rodgers, and Matthew Stafford
2022: $27 million — 3rd behind Aaron Rodgers ($37 million) and Matt Ryan (only six quarterbacks signed through 2022)
It’s safe to say more quarterbacks will move ahead of Garoppolo those three seasons, and potentially even this offseason with any contract extensions. And if he stays healthy and productive, we can also expect Garoppolo to sign an extension at some point.
Quarterback cap figures are always changing, but more importantly, the way the NFL salary cap keeps going up means it really is not that huge a deal. Teams still get in cap trouble, but it’s significantly easier to maintain a sizable amount of cap space even with a high end contract.
The 49ers will learn more about that as they figure out DeForest Buckner’s contract situation. They will exercise his fifth year option this offseason, and in the meantime can start negotiating a potential contract extension if both sides want to get something done. If Buckner builds on his breakout 2018 season, it’s safe to say he could work his way into a nine-figure contract extension. The 49ers have the cap space to make it happen, but we’ll see what happens with that over the life of Garoppolo’s own deal.