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.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.