Antoine Bethea agreed to a 4-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers on the first day of free agency. The numbers, however, were a bit hazy, and still are somewhat unclear a day later. Fortunately, the fantastic Jason Hurley of NinerCapHell.com has offerred a bit of potential clarity. According to Hurley, Bethea’s contract includes a $5 million signing bonus pro-rated over 4 years ($1.25 million a year to the salary cap). His 2015 salary will be completely guaranteed if he is on the salary by April 1 of next season and his first season is completely guaranteed. This should not be an issue for a player that, at the very least, will be a solid two-year backup (though he likely will be starting for one, if not two or three, years.).
Here is the basic money breakdown for Bethea’s deal. For a more in-depth look at the contract, click the link to Hurley’s article. Though details may not be totally clear, this likely is pretty darn close to the complete deal.
2014: $3 million
2015: $4.75 million
2016: $5.75 million
2017: $7 million
Total: $20.5 million, plus some contract escalators.
With this deal only having guarantees for the first two seasons, and with the price of Bethea looking to jump quite a bit after that, it seems that this deal is, essentially, a 2-3 year contract. I have a hard time imagining the 49ers would pay $7 million a year for Bethea (though who knows what will happen with the new CBA and the supposedly drastically-increasing cap for the next few years?
.The terms of this deal make the contract look like even more of a win for the 49ers. Bethea’s contract is very team-friendly and does not cost much against the cap in the first couple years. This was an excellent, and cheap, replacement for talented but penalty-prone–deserved or not deserved–Donte Whitner.