In a move the 49ers knew was coming, veteran center Weston Richburg officially announced his retirement and generates a positive in cap space over the next two years.
For starters, the Niners already signed his replacement, six-time Pro Bowler Alex Mack, as a free agent during the offseason. And then head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Richburg was going to retire shortly after June 1, which would help impact San Francisco’s upcoming salary-cap situation.
On June 2, Richburg officially announced his retirement, made public on the team’s website:
"I consider myself extremely blessed to have played in this league and am so grateful for the experiences over the last seven years. Injuries are an unfortunate part of this game and I’ve reached a point where my body won’t allow me to continue playing and competing at a high level. I was able to play some good football all over the country and was fortunate enough to finish my career with the greatest franchise in sports. From top to bottom, the 49ers organization is comprised of some of the best men, women and athletes I’ve ever been around."
Richburg originally signed a five-year, $47.5 million free-agent contract back in 2018, making him one of the league’s highest-paid centers at the time.
Unfortunately, however, injuries ultimately got in the way of him living up to that deal. Late in 2019 against the New Orleans Saints, Richburg suffered a serious knee injury that ended his season and forced backup center Ben Garland into a starting role all the way through the 49ers’ trip into Super Bowl LIV.
That injury setback, along with other injuries and surgeries, kept Richburg from taking the field in 2020, too, prompting the Niners’ addition of Mack and resulting in Richburg’s decision to retire.
But by waiting until after June 1, Richburg helps generate some much-needed cap space.
Weston Richburg retirement generates $10-plus million in cap savings for 49ers over next two years
Richburg will still receive his prorated signing bonus over the following two years remaining on his original contract — $3,512,791 in 2021 and $3,453,651 in 2022, per Over the Cap. But by waiting until after the June 1 designation point, the retirement will also generate $1.075 million in cap space this season with an additional $9.15 million in 2022.
In total, $10.225 million in cap savings over the next two years.
This will assuredly be money San Francisco will use to extend one of its key players, All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner, who continues to attend voluntary organized team activities and is planning on attending training camp, too, despite being eligible for a contract extension this year and could be in line to break the current salary mark for linebackers, held by the Seattle Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner at an annual average value of $18 million.
Currently, per OTC and not yet factoring in Richburg’s retirement savings and yet to sign three of their rookie 2021 NFL Draft class, the 49ers have $17,663,487 in total cap space.
Meanwhile, Richburg ends his seven-year career having played 79 games, starting all but one of them, between the Niners and New York Giants.
Best of luck in your future endeavors, Weston!