Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
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Plus, there are three players who are a year away from an extension with some uncertainty surrounding their health or play.

The NFL announced the spike in the salary cap on Friday, and the increase of roughly $30 million should help cap needy teams like the San Francisco 49ers.

The team could still ask a couple of players to restructure their contracts. There are also the chances of cap casualties on the roster, as Isaiah Oliver found out.

Extending players is another way to create cap space. Let’s go through a handful of potential extension candidates on the Niners.

Brandon Aiyuk

Back in November, Spotrac set the table for what a potential extension would look like for Aiyuk. His average salary was around $20.03 million per season over four years. Extending the 26-year-old would save San Francisco $10.39 million in 2024.

Charvarius Ward

An extension for Mooney made more sense if the cap hadn’t jumped the way it did. The Niners would save $9.62 million in 2024 but lose roughly $3 million combined over the next three seasons.

Rewarding Ward for his All-Pro 2023 season has to have crossed Ward’s mind. His base salary jumps from $1.08 million in 2023 to $12.56 million in 2025, which is technically the last year there’s money left on his deal, as everything voids outside his cap number after 2024.

Ward undoubtedly had another contract left in him. So, taking advantage now while he’s on the right side of 30 could be part of the reason the front office elects to extend him.

Fred Warner

Warner’s contract voids in 2027. The 28-year-old is playing in his prime. The good news is that with another extension, San Francisco would save $11.42 million, $13.26 million, and $13.22 million over the next three years. Warner, who signed an extension in 2021, has proven his worth during the previous three seasons.

Question marks

The three players we’ve gone over have all earned a new contract. Their play on the field speaks for itself, and each player is in the upper echelon of their position. Now, let’s talk about three other players with an extension.

Talanoa Hufanga

This conversation would be different if Hufanga finished the 2023 season healthy. A lot would be different if the 49ers didn’t lose their All-Pro safety. Nonetheless, Hufanga, who tores his ACL just as the second half of the season began, will now play out the final year of his contract. We don’t know if Hufanga will be the same player, remain healthy, or start 2024 on the PUP list.

His uncertainty may force the 49ers’ hand at safety this offseason. As it stands, Hufanga would save the team $3.06 million in cap space with an extension in 2024. What that looks like would be anyone’s guess. How do you negotiate a former fifth-round draft pick who started one season, but that year he was an All-Pro? This year will be critical for Hufanga’s future.

Dre Greenlaw

Speaking of different outcomes to a game, Greenlaw began the Super Bowl playing like a man possessed. The Kansas City Chiefs accomplished next to nothing when he was on the field.

Now, with the likelihood of Dre missing the start of the season and beginning the year on the PUP list if he doesn’t recover in time, there are talks about the 49ers releasing the linebacker who should have been an All-Pro in 2023.

Per Over the Cap, releasing Greenlaw would save the 49ers $8.67 million in 2024. That move would feel transactional as he could sign a new deal and return to the Niners without playing a down elsewhere.

A restructure would save the 49ers $4.7 million in 2024, while an extension would save the team $5.6 million. Something is happening with Greenlaw’s current contract this offseason, and whatever it is will help the 49ers cap space situation.

Greenlaw would have been in for a hefty payday had it not been for his non-contact injury in Super Bowl LVIII.

Aaron Banks

The 49ers second-round draft pick in 2021 is under contract for one more season. Banks only accounts for 1.28 percent of the 2024 salary cap. This is a big year for him and his future. His best attribute is availability, much like his predecessor, Laken Tomlinson.

There are multiple games where Banks looks excellent, and it looks like he has a bright future. Then, there are a few reps that leave you scratching your head.

The team doesn’t have to touch Banks’ contract this offseason. Cutting him would save north of three million, but you’re creating a hole for a known commodity. You’d have to sign a more expensive player, and it’s unlikely they’d be an upgrade from Banks.

Extending Banks would be a sign that the team believes in him long-term. The cap relief would be minimal, a little over $1.6 million, but it’d secure left guard for the next few seasons.

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