NFL rumors: 49ers have ninth-least salary-cap space in free agency


The 49ers reportedly don't have much salary-cap room left after the first week of NFL free agency.

San Francisco had the ninth-least amount of cap space ($19.49 million) in the NFL as of Monday morning, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported that afternoon, citing the NFL's internal cap report.

The 49ers reportedly agreed to one-year contracts with linebacker Joe Walker and edge rusher Kerry Hyder on Monday, and it's unclear if the former deal was included among the NFL's internal report. San Francisco also made defensive lineman Ronald Blair's signing official on Monday.

San Francisco's reported lack of wiggle room illustrates the dilemma that ultimately caused the 49ers to trade defensive lineman DeForest Buckner after signing Arik Armstead to a contract extension. Buckner's reported cap number for 2020 ($23.378 million) exceeds the 49ers' reported cap space, and it is far bigger than Armstead's cap number for this season ($6 million).

Of course, Buckner reached that number after signing an extension with the Colts that wiped out the fifth year of his rookie deal. The 49ers reportedly would have paid Buckner $14.36 million on his fifth-year option, so Armstead's deal still represented salary-cap savings. San Francisco also had to consider the future, with tight end George Kittle's contract extension looming beyond this season.


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The Armstead-Buckner dilemma defined the 49ers' offseason, and it likely will carry significant weight when the regular season starts, too. The 49ers reportedly don't have a lot of cap space a week into free agency, but they would've had even less had they retained Buckner, Armstead and now-departed wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Months after their Super Bowl run fell short of lifting the Lombardi Trophy, the 49ers already are paying the price for their own success.