49ers and Chiefs Trade Disappointing WR’s


Per multiple sources the 49ers will trade 2012 first round draft pick WR AJ Jenkins to the Kansas City Chiefs. Jenkins has been a major disappointment for the WR depleted 49ers and they were considering releasing Jenkins despite the fact that they owe him guaranteed salary if someone failed to pick up his contract when placed on waivers.

The benefit of trading Jenkins is that the future guaranteed Paragraph 5 salary transfers to the team that trades for the player. That saves the 49ers from potentially having to pay Jenkins $1,727,391 after having cut him from the team. Jenkins did have offsets in his contract, but had he cleared waivers a team could sign him for the minimum salary of $480,000 and $570,000 over the next two seasons leaving the 49ers with more money owed and hurting their short term salary cap as they wait for credits to be applied.

The 49ers will have a dead money cap charges of $873,187 in 2013 and $1,746,374 in 2014 attributed to Jenkins. The Chiefs will take on cap charges of $705,797, $1,021,594, and $1,337,390 from 2013 thru 2015, the first two years of which are fully guaranteed. This trade also illustrates the team benefits of the new CBA as a trade under the prior CBA would have been difficult as the 49ers would have likely paid Jenkins a salary advance or option bonus in March and reduced his base salaries to the minimum. The cap charge associated with such a trade would have been too high for the 49ers to absorb.

After writing this I just saw that the terms of the trade included WR Jon Baldwin going to the 49ers. Baldwin had a fully guaranteed salary of $1,061,510 that now transfers to the 49ers. Next year Baldwin will carry a cap charge of $1,404,765 for San Francisco, none of which is guaranteed. His dead money charge for the Chiefs will be $998,018 in both 2013 and 2014.This was a necessity for Kansas City as they could not absorb the salary cap impact of Jenkins’ contract without moving other players. Kansas City only has around $7,500 in cap room, not enough to trade a conditional pick for Jenkins salary.  The trade in essence becomes a financial swap of disappointing first round players that provides the short term needs for the Chiefs and long term needs of the 49ers.

The trade works out to be a financial benefit  for both sides. The 49ers will save themselves around $665,000 in guaranteed salary and remove any future guarantees from the books in 2014, when their salary cap looks to be quite tight. The cap starved Chiefs will receive an immediate cap benefit of about $355,000 in return for taking on guaranteed salary in 2014. So it’s a benefit for both sides that, at the very least, makes sense from a financial perspective even if both sides feel there is little to gain from the players involved.


The Cost of Cutting AJ Jenkins


San Francisco has not made many mistakes in the last few seasons, but the drafting of WR AJ Jenkins seems to be one of them. Jenkins, a 1st round draft pick in 2012, only dressed for 3 games in 2012 and has reportedly performed poorly during training camp. The 49’ers lack of depth at the position should have opened up a terrific opportunity for the young WR, but it seems as if he has not capitalized on the chance. Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News wonders if the 49’ers could consider cutting Jenkins rather than wasting a roster spot on a player who seems to be developing so slowly. 

The difficulty in cutting Jenkins lies in the salary cap treatment that would apply to Jenkins. As a former first round pick Jenkins has guaranteed salary remaining in his contract that totals $1,727,391. The June 1 rule does not apply to guaranteed salary meaning the entire amount would accelerate to the 2013 salary cap if the player was cut. If cut Jenkins salary cap number would actually rise by $1,021,594. Assuming he would be replaced on the roster by an undrafted rookie, cutting Jenkins would reduce the 49’ers cap space for the year by $1,426,594.

Thought the 49’ers salary cap saw an unexpected bump due to CB Tarell Brown’s forfeiting of a $2 million dollar escalator by not being informed of the conditions of his contract, they are no so flush with cap space that losing so much cap room is an easy pill to swallow. The 49’ers have around $7 million in cap space. Once cap calculations expand to 53 players you can take another $1 million off that figure for the roster expansion, $1 million for a Practice Squad, and they need to replace Michael Crabtree at some point, which is at least another $405,000.

As you can see that $7 million in reported space is really closer to $4.5 million for their internal roster management decisions. If they lose an additional $1.4 million the team will be looking at just a touch above $3 million in cap room at the start of the season. While teams can operate within that budget it is a very low figure and leaves little margin for error. The 49’ers have always been a proactive team in regards to contract extensions and that figure could hamper those efforts. Last season the team needed to restructure multiple contracts in the middle of the season to sign Navarro Bowman to his contract extension. While there are more players they can look to do that with if needed it may be a better idea to maximize their cap space in 2013 than to flush it away on a player whose replacement may be just as unlikely to dress on gameday.

If cut Jenkins will also carry a $1,746,374 dead money charge in 2014 due to acceleration of his signing bonus.

View AJ Jenkins Salary Cap and Contract Page