NBC anchor Dianna Marie Russini reports that, per sources, the San Francisco 49ers plan to release wide receiver Stevie Johnson in a salary cap saving move.
There was rumor that the team would try to restructure his contract to create come cap space, but it would appear that option may no longer be in their plans.
Russini reports that the move would save the team $5.5 million. However, as reported earlier, that number would be closer to $6.025 million with no dead money and possibly create up to $12 million in total cap space for the 49ers -- depending on the final salary cap set by the NFL. There is no difference in savings whether the 49ers release Johnson now or post-June 1.
Johnson played his first six seasons with the Buffalo Bills before joining the 49ers this past offseason via a pre-Draft trade. His inherited salary was seen as hefty at the time, but the 49ers likely figured that it could be restructured down the road. That plan may have failed, leaving the team with their only option left.
In 2014, Johnson had 35 receptions for 435 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson had three 1,000+ yard seasons in Buffalo. While he only had 35 receptions, he was targeted only 49 times according to Pro Football Focus, leading to a 102.0 passer rating on throws in his direction.
Drafting a wide receiver early in the NFL Draft may have just become a bigger priority.