Charles Woodson or Nnamdi Asomugha: Who do you like for the 49ers?
Two defensive backs are on the 49ers radar. Eight time Pro Bowler Charles Woodson and Bay Area once-superstar Nnamdi Asomugha. Woodson is 36 years old, had a good career with the Oakland Raiders and recently with the Green Bay Packers but is not getting younger. Asomugha on the other hand has recently turned Free Agent when the Philadelphia Eagles released him in the middle of a 5 year contract. Just like Woodson, Nnamdi left Oakland with impressive numbers, once regarded as one of the best shutdown Cornerbacks in the league at the time of his release from the Silver and Black. But his performance with the Eagles did not justify the kind of money he’s receiving that’s why they released him. Nnamdi and Charles are shopping for employers around the league and both have been seen by the 49ers. The only question is, can the team afford any one or both of them?
What are the chances that both or one of them will sign up with the 49ers?
If SF 49ers have the cap room, these 2 would have been off the market by now. Even if they are not the most coveted DBs in the league, they will still be considered upgrades to the Niners secondary. The 49ers are in a contest with the Seattle Seahawks in signing the best possible upgrades to have the early advantage over the other in the offseason. Their current roster puts them almost close to the salary cap threshold after they signed WR Anquan Boldin, DT Glenn Dorsey,Special Teams/LB Dan Skuta, SS Craig Dahl and kicker Phil Dawson.
So why are the 49ers still hoping to sign at least one or both of the 2 DBs if they don’t have the cap room? That’s when the salary modifications come in. If the 49ers can restructure a couple of their veterans’ salary to create a cap space, it’ll be possible to get Woodson or Asomugha at around $5M each (just a ball park figure) if their salary is structured so that they’ll get accommodated in this year’s roster. That remains to be a big IF!
What is the 49ers actual salary cap situation?
At the start of free agency in March 2, the 49ers are $5M below the salary cap but created $8.5M more when Alex Smith officially got traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. So they were $13.5 below the cap but immediately used half of that when they signed WR Anquan Boldin in a trade and inherited his $6M a year salary from the Baltimore Ravens. The Niners are back to $7.5M available cap space. Then they signed Dorsey for 2 years worth $6M but I believe only around $2.2M will count in the cap due to the terms and condition of the deal. So at $5.3 M, can they start signing one of the 2 Defensive Backs? Not quite yet. They needed to create more cap space for Special Teams players and a kicker and more cap room for draft day signing. SS Craig Dahl at $1.7 M against salary cap this year, Dan Skuta at $1.35M and new kicker Phil Dawson is $2.25M. As of the last FA signing and after an in-house contract renegotiations, the 49ers are around $4M below salary cap. Not even enough to sign the minimum number of drafted players.
How are they going to create cap room?
First restructure a player’s salary, if it doesn’t work, release a player to free up cap space.
Example, Anquan Boldin has an unguaranteed 1 year contract of $6M. The 49ers can offer him 2 or 3-year deal laden with signing bonus but has to lower his base salary. But wasn’t that the problem in Baltimore, he wasn’t willing to take a pay cut? Yes but it doesn’t mean he is getting less money. It only means his base salary will be reduced to say $3M a year but will get a signing bonus of $3M so he still gets his $6M this year. The advantage for him is in order to get this done, the Niners has to offer him a multi year contract. Let’s just say he has 3 more years left, he will be offered a 3 – year deal worth $18M with $3M signing bonus. In the first year he will get his $6M as described above but the signing bonus will be prorated over 3 years, meaning it will count in the salary cap divided in 3 years. So if his base salary is $3M, only $1M of the bonus will count in this year’s cap. So the 49ers just created an extra $2M cap space. The other $2M bonus will count in the succeeding cap years at $1M a year. The 49ers will have the option to keep his 3-year contract which either look like this:
2013-$3M base + $3M bonus=$6M
Salary cap=$3M+$1M(prorated signing bonus $3M/3years)
2014-$7M base +(0 bonus was paid upfront. )
Salary cap=$7M+$1M(prorated bonus)=$8M
2015-$8M base +(0)
They can always cut him after this season to avoid paying his bloated salary in the next 2 years or come up with a long term cap friendly deal. If they cut him next year due to increase in base salary, the signing bonus will still count in the cap because he was already paid up front. If they cut him before June 1, 2014, this will accelerate the prorated signing bonus that year, meaning the $2M will count in the 2014 salary cap. If they decide to cut him on or after June 1, then the prorated bonus will be counted over the next 2 years at $1M each.
This is just an example of how the team can create cap space this year but they are risking their future cap figure with this kind of deals. I am pretty sure the Accounting department at 4949 Santa Clara can come up with better figures or cap friendly deals. It is not an exact number if they actually want to restructure Boldin’s salary.
Expect the following players to be on the 49ers’ salary modification/renegotiation candidates:
WR Boldin, LB Parys Haralson, C Jonathan Goodwin, TE Vernon Davis, DE Ray McDonald, DE Justin Smith and there could be more but 2 or 3 of those veterans will create enough cap space to accommodate either Woodson or Asomugha or both. The Niners target cap figure will depend on how much they are going or willing to pay the DB(s).
If you are a 49ers fan, who would you like to include in this year’s secondary?