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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Will the 49ers restructure Dre Greenlaw’s contract after LB’s injury?

Feb 20, 2024 at 1:50 PM--

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The injury to Dre Greenlaw during Super Bowl 58 dealt a significant blow to the San Francisco 49ers' defense. The impact of his absence was obvious, as evidenced by Fred Warner's emotional reaction on the sideline after his teammate and friend was carted off to the locker room.

Greenlaw suffered a torn Achilles in the second quarter as he ran onto the field from the sidelines.

"Dre's the heartbeat of our defense, him and Fred in there, and how they feed off each other," tight end George Kittle declared after the game. "... We lose a guy like Dre, it's tough. He's just such a fantastic football player, and he's everything that the Niners stand for."

The injury could present a challenging (and potentially uncomfortable) situation for the 49ers, who face some tough salary-cap decisions. Greenlaw is likely to miss a significant portion, if not all, of the upcoming season. Yet, he is slated to earn $8.7 million in base salary and bonuses, with a corresponding $9.6 million cap hit in 2024, per

According to ESPN's Dan Graziano, "None of that money is guaranteed, but if he's still on the roster on April 1, $2.5 million of it becomes guaranteed."

Graziano further explains that Greenlaw is entitled to $2.1 million in guaranteed compensation via the Collective Bargaining Agreement-mandated injury protection if the 49ers release him after he fails to pass that physical—a certainty.

"Releasing Greenlaw before April 1 would save the Niners $6.806 million in cap space," Graziano notes, adding that the $2.1 million injury protection would not affect the team's salary cap until after the season.

The ESPN reporter admits that releasing Greenlaw would be viewed as a harsh and unsympathetic move by the organization. Understandably, the 49ers have been pleased with the veteran linebacker's play on the field. He has recorded 247 tackles over the past two seasons.

As an alternative, Graziano suggests a more favorable option—a contract restructuring that aligns with Greenlaw's current health status, reducing his financial impact in 2024 by deferring much of the money to future years.

Graziano emphasizes, "I don't want to be accused of writing 'Niners should/will cut Greenlaw,' but it must be pointed out that his deal offers them a chance for some easy cap savings that might not hurt them on the field in 2024."

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