The 49ers’ initial deal with fullback Kyle Juszczyk seemed overly expensive, yet the revealed details showed why Paraag Marathe is still a master.
There might not be an award for NFL’s best contracts negotiator. But if there was one, the San Francisco 49ers‘ own, Paraag Marathe, should receive it.
The team’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations and chief contracts architect sure made his own salary worthwhile in the handling of one of many tricky deals the Niners would have to engineer amid a decreased salary cap and a slew of rostered players hitting NFL free agency this offseason.
One of those would be to figure out a way to retain a key component of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was hitting free agency after his original four-year, $21 million deal with San Francisco was about to expire. That particular contract was quite the outlier for fullbacks. But the five-time Pro Bowler does so much for Shanahan’s offense, it makes a good deal of sense for the 49ers to overspend based solely on positional value.
So when news broke San Francisco was re-signing Juszczyk before the league’s negotiating window opened on March 15, the initial reaction to the five-year, $27 million deal went about as expected as it could.
“Why would the 49ers spend that much money on a fullback?”
Well, it makes much more sense when you dive into the actual contract numbers instead of looking at the total value alone.
Kyle Juszczyk’s contract with 49ers is essentially a two-year deal
It’s important to note any contract’s guaranteed money is the thing to watch for here. While the $27 million part is significant to analyze, it’s Juszczyk’s guarantees that monitor attention.
And those are just $9.6 million, according to Over the Cap.
The Niners will be on the hook for just $2.275 million in 2021, giving Marathe and general manager John Lynch much more wiggle room against a decreased salary cap of $182.5 million, which is down from $198.5 million in 2020. But with the cap expected to bounce back significantly a year from now, Juszczyk’s pay increase in 2022 isn’t necessarily exorbitant either.
He’ll make up to $2.96 million in 2022.
The numbers start to increase on a year-to-year basis in 2023 when Juszczyk’s salary jumps to $6.59 million. That’s the final year where Juszczyk has any dead money left, although it’s just $1.25 million. And after that, there are no guarantees left on his contract for the final duration of the five-year deal.
So, hypothetically speaking, if San Francisco wanted to get out from underneath Juszczyk’s contract, it could do so after two seasons at a cap hit of just over $2.5 million (prorated signing bonus and guaranteed money) if the team waited until after June 1, 2023.
Easy to do.
The signing bonus will be prorated out through the duration of the contract. Yet that’s still a relatively affordable $1.34 million per season after 2022, particularly if the cap does increase as expected.
Meaning Marathe’s magic worked its wonders again, as Juszczyk remains part of the 49ers offense while getting some long-term security.
And the deal doesn’t hinder the Niners’ own salary cap efforts either.