As the San Francisco 49ers prepare for another offseason, the front office must look to create the necessary salary cap space to build their 2023 roster.
According to OverTheCap, the 49ers currently have less than $6 million in cap space, far from enough to improve their roster this offseason.
With that said, the Niners have multiple ways to create more space, including restructuring the contracts of highly paid veterans.
Here’s a look at five restructure candidates for the 49ers:
Christian McCaffrey: McCaffrey seems like a lock to receive a restructured contract. He has no guaranteed money remaining over the final three seasons of his deal, and is set to be a $12 million cap hit in 2023. The Niners could easily convert the bulk of McCaffrey’s $11.8 million base salary into a signing bonus that would free up more than $7 million in cap space without adding a void year to his deal.
Likelihood: Very Likely
Trent Williams: Normally I would expect a team to be hesitant about restructuring the contract of a player who will be 35 before next season, but Williams is still the best offensive lineman in the NFL.
Williams has no salary guarantees after next season in his contract, which should be an added incentive for the left tackle to be open to turning some of his, 2023 base salary into a signing bonus.
While it would not directly guarantee his salary after next season, it would make it more difficult for the Niners to move on from him. Moreover, his cap hit is set to be north of $27 million next season, leaving the door open to create up to $15 million in cap space with an aggressive restructuring that added a void year to the end of his current deal.
Fred Warner: The anchor of the 49ers defense, Warner’s base salary is jumping from under $2.6 million last season to $12.925 million in 2023. With four years left on his contract, the Niners could easily convert some of Warner’s salary into a signing bonus and spread it over the remaining years of the contract, perhaps even adding a void year in the process.
With that said, Warner’s cap hits are already set to average roughly $22.8 million per year from 2024-2026. Those numbers would only increase with any restructuring.
Arik Armstead: Armstead’s contract was restructured last offseason and already has a pair of void years that the Niners will have to deal with when his current deal expires. However, he has more than $16 million in non-guaranteed salary/bonuses in 2023 that could be converted into a signing bonus that would create some immediate cap relief at the expense of long-term flexibility.
This seems like an unlikely scenario unless the 49ers have an opportunity to add a massive upgrade at quarterback that justifies prioritizing 2023 that much.
Likelihood: Very Unlikely
George Kittle: Like Warner, Kittle’s base salary is scheduled to increase by more than $10 million. Still, given his injury history and age, it seems less likely for the 49ers to further tie themselves to Kittle beyond 2023 than other options. That said, they could create just over $8 million in space with a restructure.
Likelihood: Very Unlikely