While Aldon Smith’s new contract, which was finalized Thursday, has no long-term impact on the 49ers’ salary cap, it does create some temporary room for the organization, according to league sources.
The exact structure of the contract is not known, but the 49ers could realize a short-term savings of up to $4 million if the deal is structured in a way to maximize immediate savings.
The short-term cap savings was not mentioned Thursday as a reason for the deal's completion. The 49ers wanted to protect themselves from devoting a large sum of money to a player who has experienced off-the-field difficulties in his first four NFL seasons. And Smith representative, agent Doug Hendrickson, said his client wanted to work with the 49ers to create the kind of trust that will eventually lead to a long-term contract.
If Smith remains on the team for the entire season, and receives his entire scheduled salary, the 49ers will experience no net savings on their 2015 salary cap.
Before the execution of the restructured contract, Smith’s deal resulting from the 49ers picking up his fifth-year option was one year, $9.754 million.
The new deal replaces the money, all of which would have been guaranteed on March 10, with a lower base salary and roster bonuses, beginning in April that run through the regular season.
Smith is scheduled to earn approximately $2 million in bonuses before the start of the regular season. If his base salary is reduced to the minimum of $745,000, that leaves a little more than $7 million available for the in-season roster bonuses.
Because Smith appeared in just seven games last season due to a nine-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policies on substance abuse and personal conduct, only seven games worth of bonuses would initially count against the 49ers’ cap as “likely to be earned.”
But as Smith continues to collect his bonuses for being on the 49ers’ 53-man roster beyond seven games, the 49ers must have the cap space to handle the remainder of the full $9.754 million he is scheduled to earn.