49ers Make Crucial $12 Million Decision With Pivotal Defender: Report

Charvarius Ward

Getty Charvarius Ward latches onto DK Metcalf on January 14, 2023 in Santa Clara.

After a day managing to get Javon Hargrave and Sam Darnold on significant deals, the San Francisco 49ers were placed in a position where they had to find a way to create some salary cap relief.

They’ve done just that on the defensive side of the football and involving their top signing from one year ago Charvarius Ward. Per 49ers reporter for ESPN Nick Wagoner on the morning of Tuesday, March 14, the 49ers have reworked Ward’s deal as part of “space needed after recent moves.”

“49ers restructured CB Charvarius Ward’s contract, converting $12.48 million of his salary into signing bonus and adding three void years. The move created just under $10 million in cap space,” Wagoner reported. “Space needed after recent moves.”

Ward became the 49ers’ prized addition via free agency when he signed a three-year deal worth $42 million that featured $26.7 million guaranteed — which occurred on March 14, 2022.

Now, per 49ers insider David Lombardi of The Athletic, the 49ers have $7.4 million in cap space to work with as of Tuesday morning and on the second day of the league’s legal tampering window. The free agency period doesn’t officially start until Wednesday, March 15 — when signings like Hargrave and his blockbuster $84 million deal and Darnold’s become processed.

Ward’s Restructure Follows Similar Path 49ers Took

Ward happens to be a part of a current trend involving the 49ers’ front office, as the 49ers have added their top cornerback from the best defense of 2022 to their list of restructured athletes around this time of year.

Noted by Lombardi, the Niners went with a similar idea to help free up space with two of their stars.

“This Tuesday last season, the 49ers restructured contracts of Arik Armstead and George Kittle to attain cap compliance ahead of the new league year’s start on Wednesday. Same drill this season with Charvarius Ward,” Lombardi noted.

Perhaps there could still be other restructure candidates on the 49ers soon. All-Pro tackle Trent Williams, Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey and All-Pro inside linebacker Fred Warner have been mentioned as possibilities there.

Contract Details of Darnold’s Deal Revealed by Insider

As for the former No. 3 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, terms of Darnold’s one-year deal, per NFL Network insider Tom Peliserro on Tuesday, are set to involve the following numbers:

Base value: Darnold to receive $4.5 million.

Guaranteed money: The former New York Jets and Carolina Panthers signal-caller is anticipated to earn $3.5 million in guaranteed money.

However, contributor to Over the Cap Nick Korte added more context to what Darnold is set to walk into contract wise for the 49ers.

“For now, this cancels out a 6th round 2024 compensatory pick from the 49ers’ chart,” Korte first explained. “However, the program doesn’t know that Sam Darnold is highly unlikely to sustain his career 65.3% snap average, and if he doesn’t play at all, his contract could instead only cancel out a 7th.”

Lombardi chimed in with his belief of how the 49ers will work around this after Darnold’s deal is signed.

“Interesting. The less Sam Darnold plays, the more valuable of a comp pick the 49ers stand to gain,” Lombardi said. “SF certainly won’t be thinking about this, but it’s worth paying closer attention to the comp formula given how the 49ers have built their team and maxed out 2023 comp picks (the 49ers earned seven compensatory draft picks for the ’23 draft).”

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