Dollars? More Like Doughnuts
January 18 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
Every time I look at the 49ers payroll I’m reminded that despite a winning season, 12-4 record and trip to the playoffs the 49ers of this off-season aren’t in that much better shape than over the past two off-seasons. That means very few dollars will be spent this off-season upgrading the team. Any money the team can scrounge together will be used to re-sign some of its own players, its draft picks and maybe one or two players. Nothing substantial.
Before incentives were reached by players like Jeff Garcia and Garrison Hearst, the 49ers were expected to be about $6 million under the 2002 projected salary cap. Now that those figures have been loosely calculated it looks like the 49ers will have to trim down about $5 million. So where’s the good news in all this? Well first, the ‘dead money’ the 49ers have to deal with is down by about half to around $10 million. That in its self may make signing a full roster of players possible this coming season.
The rest of the good news is that the 49ers are fewer players away from reaching the top of the NFL. Of course, with the improved play of most of the roster, those free agents looking for a new contract may put themselves out of reach of the 49ers.
So what should we expect from this off-season? First and foremost look for the 49ers to renegotiate some contracts to try and get under the salary cap. The team really doesn’t have many options in terms of cutting players to reduce the figure - but they may be able to alleviate some of the painful process in the expansion draft -where if one of their players are chosen, they no longer hold any financial responsibility for that player.
Next look for the team to make a play for their own big name free agents, Jeremy Newberry, Fred Beasley, Lance Schulters and Garrison Hearst in that order. Though it’s like Schulters will be the first of the four to re-sign. While that’s happening the team will be going through the draft process and trying to sign those players. Once all that is either accomplished or deemed impossible the team may look to the free agent market to see if it can add some depth to positions like offensive or defensive line.
One blink of your eye this off-season and you may very well lose track of where the 49ers stand. So much to do in so little time - this off-season is bound to be a wild ride.