Salary cap implications of 49ers releasing NaVorro Bowman

Salary cap implications of 49ers releasing NaVorro Bowman

The 49ers decision Friday to release veteran linebacker NaVorro Bowman comes just 14 months after he was rewarded with a lucrative, long-term contract extension.

Trent Baalke, the 49ers’ general manager at the time, said he was “thrilled to know” Bowman would play his entire career with the 49ers.

But that contract also likely contributed to the new regime's decision to part ways with Bowman sooner rather than later.

“We took everything into account,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said on Friday. “And having said that, we felt like it was the best decision for us.”

Bowman appeared in just four games with the 49ers last season before sustaining a career-changing torn Achilles. When he came back this season, Bowman did not look like the same player. The 49ers’ coaching staff was beginning to lessen his workload in order to keep him fresh.

After Bowman expressed dissatisfaction with his changing role – publicly and privately – Lynch said the 49ers engaged in trade talks with “a couple teams” before opting to release him.

Here are the financial implications of the 49ers’ decision to part ways with Bowman, based on contract details filed through the NFL Player Assciation:

The 49ers will not have to pay $41.7 million in salary and bonuses he was scheduled to receive over the final five years of his contract.

Bowman was scheduled to earn $6.75 million in base salary this season -- $4.7 million of which was fully guaranteed. The 49ers are charged the full $6.75 million salary, as a cap hold is placed on the non-guaranteed portion of the salary for the termination pay for which Bowman can file.

The 49ers will not have to pay approximately $515,000 this season in per-game roster bonuses.

Before the move, the 49ers had a league-high $62.94 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association.

Next year, Bowman will account for $4.774 million of dead money -- or cap space from previously paid bonuses to a player no longer on the team. An option bonus that would have paid him an additional $3.45 million would have triggered in 2018, so the 49ers are no longer responsible for that amount.

The 49ers will save all $9.45 million of his scheduled 2018 pay, which would have included salary and bonuses.

Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts


Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.

Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.

Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.

Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.

Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.

The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.

Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.

An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations


An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

If the 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are unable to reach a multi-year contract extension by March 6, the 49ers have no other choice but to designate him as their franchise player.

The estimated one-year salary for the franchise tag would be $23.307 million, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry, whose work now appears at CBS Sports. (That is assuming a 2018 league-wide salary cap of $178.1 million per team.)

There is a lot to consider for both sides as they look to enter into a long-term contract. Corry said if a deal is struck, he would expect it to be in the neighborhood of Derek Carr’s five-year, $125 million deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason.

“And then there’s the other dynamic, which I would not undersell or I think may not be appreciated as much as it should be,” Corry said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “(Garoppolo’s agent) Don Yee has a reputation – no fault of his own – of doing team-friendly deals.”

Yee also represents New England quarterback Tom Brady, whose average of $20.5 million annual pay ranks 15th among NFL quarterbacks. Brady is underpaid by design, Corry said, because one of the great quarterbacks of all-time realizes it helps the Patriots to maintain a strong supporting cast.

“That’s because Tom Brady dictates, ‘I want to do something good for the team, take less money so we can improve the roster to win Super Bowls.’ That’s not Don Yee who wants to do that,” Corry said.

“The agent works for the player, so he’s executing Tom Brady’s wishes. But he gets that held against him in recruiting. So this is his opportunity to erase that perception if Garoppolo allows him to do his job and gives him latitude to strike the deal that he feels is appropriate.”

For more on the potential negotiating strategies of both sides, listen here to the 49ers Insider Podcast.