We all know that the 2014 offseason has begun, and has been a fast, and wild one. But a lot of people are more worried about the 2015 offseason, when the 49ers have a number of key contributors as free agents to be. I want to put the worries to rest, once and for all.
As of March, 15, 2014, the 49ers have 48 players signed for 2015, with a $115,991,205 in cap commitments for those 48 players, along with an additional $1,494,531 in dead money from the Carlos Rogers June 1 designated cut. And with a conservative 2015 salary cap limit of $140 million, the 49ers are currently $22,514,264 under the cap.
I will first list the pending free agents after 2014, then list the 48 players under contract, which includes the likely to be 5th-year option picked up for Aldon Smith, into groups.
QB Colin Kaepernick
RB Frank Gore
RB Kendall Hunter
FB Bruce Miller
FB Will Tukuafu
WR Michael Crabtree
WR Jon Baldwin
WR Brandon Carswell
WR David Reed
TE Garrett Celek
LG Mike Iupati
RG/OT Adam Snyder
DE Tony Jerod-Eddie
NT Glenn Dorsey
OLB Dan Skuta
CB Chris Culliver
CB Eric Wright
CB Chris Cook
SS C.J. Spillman
SS Raymond Ventrone
SS D.J. Campbell
Two other players who are potentials to be on the 2014 roster are current tendered players, RFA Demarcus Dobbs, and EFA Michael Wilhoite.
Now of those free agents to be, I believe the following are high priority. Those include, Kaepernick, Miller, Crabtree, & Iupati. The ones I believe that should also have priority, and try and keep include, Hunter, Jerod-Eddie, Dorsey, Skuta, Culliver, Spillman, and Ventrone.
I also expect Wilhoite to be kept as a RFA, as he has proven to be a solid ILB in place of either Willis or Bowman.
Now let us take a look at the players under contract, in groups, I'll start with guys who should be on the team, no matter what their salary cap charge is.
RB Marcus Lattimore($585,146 cap charge) – Lattimore is considered to be the future for the 49ers at RB, and he has such a low cap charge, it makes no sense to release him.
WR Anquan Boldin($6.909M cap charge) – Boldin will be here in 2015, as I don't expect a slump from him. And I know he has a high cap charge, but he is a consistent pro, and reliable.
WR Quinton Patton($682,875 cap charge) – Patton has shown through what little playing time, that he has all the potential to be a solid #3 WR. And his salary is not an issue.
TE Vernon Davis($7,019,920 cap charge) – Davis, although his high cap charge, is in line for an extension. Davis is a leader on the field, and off the field, so he is a must to keep for the future development of Colin Kaepernick as the future of the franchise at QB.
TE Vance McDonald($981,594 cap charge) – McDonald also showed some potential, and has a low cap charge compared to other #2 TEs around the league, so he is a keeper.
C Daniel Kilgore($1,937,500 cap charge) – Kilgore just signed an extension with the team, and he is viewed as the teams' future at Center. So he is a keeper.
RG Alex Boone($1.79M cap charge) – Boone has been a nice pickup as an UDFA back a few years, he has shown his development, and proved it by winning the RG spot out of nowhere. Plus Boone is in line for an extension.
LT Joe Staley($5.2M cap charge) – Staley went from an average LT, to an All Pro, Pro Bowl LT. And he has one of the best contracts on the team, as he has no guaranteed money left, but I have a feeling that will change soon. But he is a keeper.
RT Anthony Davis($6,716,670 cap charge) – Davis also just signed an extension not long ago, so the 49ers obviously view Davis as the future at RT.
DE Justin Smith($6,436,668 cap charge) – Smith is a true pro, and workhorse. He always gives 110%. And there is no way the 49ers release him, not after he helped the team by redoing his deal just last offseason. He will likely retire a 49er.
DE Ray McDonald($5,946,985 cap charge) – McDonald has had injury issues in the past few seasons, but when healthy he is a good 3-4 DE. So I believe the team will keep him.
DE Tank Carradine($1,346,367 cap charge) – Carradine was once considered a 1st round pick in 2013, but fell a little due to a Torn ACL, and the 49ers are banking on getting a steal put of the 40th overall pick in the 2013 draft. He has so much pass rushing skills, and all the potential in the world.
OLB Aldon Smith($9.754M cap charge) – Smith has a pending $9.754M cap charge as his 5th-year team option, as part of his rookie contract, signed in 2011. Once picked up, before May 3rd, 2014, his salary will be locked in at that rate. Plus Smith is a pass rushing beast, and should be extended for the long haul.
OLB Ahmad Brooks($8.35M cap charge) – I know Brooks has a high cap charge, but as long as he improves upon his 2013 season, he should stay around. I wouldn't rule out a restructure if need be.
OLB Corey Lemonier($720,880 cap charge) – Lemonier was a solid 3rd round pick in 2013, and showed it in 2013 when Aldon Smith was out, due to his off the field problems. He is clearly a keeper.
ILB Patrick Willis($8,736,750 cap charge) – Willis has been the team's leader on the defense for many years, and I wouldn't ever consider releasing him, so I believe the 49ers hold onto him, and give him an extension soon.
ILB NaVorro Bowman($7.75M cap charge) – Bowman did suffer a severe injury in the NFC Championship Game, but he is still one of the best ILBs in the NFL, and should come back strong, so I don't see any chance they let him go.
CB Tramaine Brock($3.05M cap charge) – Brock signed an extension in November of 2013, and is viewed as a Starting CB, or at worst the #3 CB. Plus he is young, and cheap compared to other starters, or starting caliber players.
FS Eric Reid($2,312,933 cap charge) – Reid was a surprise pick at 18 overall, but he showed up, with big plays, and hard hitting, plus he isn't that bad in coverage. So the 49ers really did well, and have a future at FS in Reid.
SS Antoine Bethea($4.75M cap charge) – Bethea was just signed this week, and he played great as a Colt. He was a consistent starter, and got a good, cap friendly deal, which can be an easy out after 2015.
PK Phil Dawson($4.134M cap charge) -Dawson was amazing for the 49ers in 2013, and as long as he stays that way, I can't see the 49ers letting Dawson go. Especially with the way Jim Harbaugh lobbied for him to be kept.
P Andy Lee($2.55M cap charge) - Obviously Lee is among the top 3 Punters in the NFL. I highly doubt the 49ers would give up on him, especially with such a low cap number.
Next up are players who have a 50/50 chance of being here in 2015.
RB LaMichael James($1,056,013 cap charge) – James is a 50/50 in my opinion. He is a decent back, and a decent returner. He has a high cap charge, so I can see them letting him go.
OG Joe Looney($766,301 cap charge) – Looney may be a guy that is being groomed to be the new LG. If so, I expect him to at least see his rookie contract through.
OT Jonathan Martin($1,024,400 cap charge) – Martin was just acquired in a trade from Miami for a conditional 2015 7th round pick, depending on if he makes the 2014 53-man roster. And if he does, it will show that Martin is capable of being the 6th Lineman. There is also a possibility that he could shift over to LG if Iupati isn't retained.
NT Ian Williams($1,583,334 cap charge) – Williams in some eyes should be a lock, I just want to see more of him to be sure. He has a low cap hit for most starting NTs, so keeping him won't hurt the teams cap.
NT Quinton Dial($630,413 cap charge) – Dial has a cheap cap charge for both 2014, and 2015, so if he stays put, he should be here in 2015.
ILB Nick Moody($611,918 cap charge) – Moody has a good chance of staying in 2015, as long as he stays throughout 2014. He is versatile, can play ILB, possibly Safety, and a Special Teams Ace.
CB Darryl Morris($585,000 savings) – Morris was a special teams standout since he was signed off the practice squad, and has a good shot at keeping his job in 2014, so that should at least get him a camp invite so to speak.
FS Craig Dahl($1,933,334 cap charge) – I know some don't like, or are not a fan of Dahl, but he is a good special teams tackler, so he has a legit chance of sticking in 2015, as long as he sticks in 2014.
LS Kevin McDermott($586,668 cap charge) – McDermott is more than likely a lock than a 50/50, but for the reason that the 49ers love to have a LS come in and compete, I put him as 50/50.
Now these 9 players count $8,777,381 in cap room, with a possibility of $1,032,735 in dead money.
Now players who I doubt are here in 2015, as they likely don't make it through 2014′s cuts.
QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson($735,000 cap charge) – McBLT, as he nicknamed, isn't likely to be here in 2015 in my opinion. The team needs a better veteran as a backup.
RB Jewel Hampton($585,000 cap charge) – Hampton isn't likely to make it to the 2014 active roster, unless the team trades LaMichael James.
FB Alex Debniak($511,668 cap charge) – Debniak, a former Linebacker at Stanford, converted to a FB when he signed with the 49ers, but unless an injury occurs, he isn't staying here.
WR Chuck Jacobs($510,000 cap charge) – Jacobs has all the potential to be a good player, but unless he can beat out anyone who they put in front of him, he is likely destined for the practice squad again in 2014.
WR DeMarco Sampson($585,000 cap charge) – Sampson is probably just a camp body for the time being, not a chance he sticks, unless he has a tremendous camp.
WR Devon Wylie($585,000 cap charge) – Wylie has potential to be a good returner, but he hasn't shown it in the NFL, yet anyway. But I suspect he is a practice squader, more so then a active roster member.
TE Derek Carrier($585,000 cap charge) – Even if Carrier makes the 2014 roster, I doubt he makes it to the 2015 roster. As someone better will be picked up.
OG Ryan Seymour($585,000 cap charge) – Seymour is more of a camp body, he was picked up off the Seahawks practice squad, so I don't see a long term potential for him here.
OG Al Netter($510,000 cap charge) – Netter has been around here for a few seasons, between offseason roster, and practice squad, but I doubt he sticks.
OT Carter Bykowski($510,000 cap charge) – Bykowski is probably going to be in a intense battle with Jonathan Martin, Adam Snyder, and Luke Marquardt for a roster spot, but more than likely a practice squader, back on a cheaper deal.
OT Luke Marquardt($511,668 cap charge) – Marquardt is going to be in a battle with others, so he has a long uphill battle ahead of him.
DE Lawrence Okoye($511,000 cap charge) – Okoye has an uphill battle at DE, and it doesn't look good for him, so I put him as having little chance of making it this far.
NT Mike Purcell($510,000 cap charge) – Unless Purcell shows a lot of potential, he is also a practice squader, with a lower cap charge in 2015, if he remains.
DT Christian Tupou($585,000 cap charge) – Tupou is more than likely a camp body, so I doubt he makes it this far.
ILB Darius Fleming($701,200 cap charge) – Fleming has little chance of making it this far, as he has had 2 torn ACLs on the same Knee.
CB Dax Swanson($510,000 cap charge) – Swanson isn't likely to make the team in 2014, so I don't see him here in 2015.
P Colton Schmidt($510,000 cap charge) – Schmidt is likely a camp body/leg, so he won't see this salary.
After that is all done, take a look at the above players, they count for a total of $9,540,536, with only a chance of $4,336 in dead money from those 17 players.
From the 50/50 chances, and the players I feel have little chances, the team can see a combined total of $17,280,846 in cap room.
Add that to the already $22 million, the 49ers would have over $39.795 million in salary cap room, which is enough to retain the key players. I do expect the 49ers to let go of either Michael Crabtree, or Mike Iupati, likely Iupati.
[ Edited by AB81Rules on Mar 17, 2014 at 1:21 PM ]