The Cap Implications of Trading 49’ers QB Alex Smith

According to CBSSports’ Jason LaCanfora a deal for the former starting QB of the San Francisco 49’ers is complete and will happen as soon as the new League Year begins on March 12

When the 49’ers signed Smith last year to a 3 year deal it was more or less a 1 year deal for the 49ers who knew last year that Smith could be replaced by Colin Kaepernick if the situation presented itself. To ensure that they could move Smith off the team without issue the 49’ers did not use a signing bonus in Smith’s contract instead opting to guarantee his 2012 base salary and a small portion of his 2013 base salary. For Smith’s benefit the contract contained a $1 million dollar roster bonus due on the 2nd day of the league year which would likely force the 49ers to either release him or trade him before that date, essentially giving Smith all of free agency to find a new team. If the 49ers failed to do that his entire base salary will guarantee on April 1st.

Provided the 49’ers make the trade official before 4PM on March 14, at which point his roster bonus will be earned, the 49ers will clear all of Smith’s $9.75 million in cap charges off the books free and clear. The team that acquires him will pick up the $1 million in current guarantees, the $1 million roster bonus obligation, and the remainder of his base salary guarantee that kicks in on April 1st. So this will be one of those rare cases where the entire salary cap charge transfers with the player. Included in Smith’s cap charge is a $1 million dollar performance incentive that I believe is still considered “likely to be earned”. If he did not earn that incentive last year then his cap number will be reduced by $1 million of what I have listed here.

Because the 49ers need to be under the salary cap prior to the start of the League Year, Smith’s current cap figure will still impact their 2013 salary cap for at least one day, still putting them in a position where they may need to cut a small amount of salary from their current roster before the season begins. The team trading for Smith will need the cap room to fit his salary cap number on the books on the day of the trade. The two teams rumored to be trading for him, the Chiefs and Jaguars, both have the cap room needed to execute the move.

Follow this link to view the cap charges associated with Smith’s 3 year contract.