The San Francisco 49ers have announced that they have waived defensive lineman Ray McDonald in light of a recent investigation into sexual assault charges. This was likely an easy decision for the 49ers as McDonald was entering the final year of his contract in 2015 and likely going to face a suspension by the NFL under the personal conduct policy. With the team struggling and out of the playoff race it would make little sense to deal with the questions that would come up about why McDonald remained on the team. With a strong chance that he would either be released next season for salary cap purposes or forced to miss a large number of games, releasing McDonald with two weeks remaining avoids a lot of unneeded attention for the team.
The 49ers had converted $2.645 million of McDonalds salary into a signing bonus this August to help with the teams tight salary cap position entering the season. To obtain further relief they added two additional void years to the contract. Because of that bonus McDonald will carry a $4,609,971 cap charge next season for San Francisco. He was scheduled to earn $4.2 million and carry a $5.946 million cap charge. His release will free up about $1.86 million in cap room.
As a vested veteran McDonald is eligible for termination pay following the season if he clears waivers. Termination pay is essentially a base salary guarantee that every veteran earns for a season by being active during the season. Because of this McDonald will continue to count against the 49ers salary cap at the same figure as if he were on the roster. McDonald can choose to file for this payment after the season. Because you can only file for termination pay once in an NFL career there is probably a good chance that McDonald will not use it this season provided he thinks he can return to the NFL at a later date. He would collect $100,588 in salary by putting in a claim, a number far lower than his required minimum salary if another team signed him in the future.
I’ll leave McDonald’s salary cap page up for another day or two as is before moving him to the dead money list for the 2015 season.