Dee Ford's contract structure establishes 49ers flexibility for future originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com
The 49ers designed a front-loaded, incentive-based contract with defensive end Dee Ford as the team avoided making a long-term financial commitment.
The team signed Ford to a five-year contract extension upon acquiring the Kansas City Chiefs' franchise player in a trade this week for the 49ers' second-round draft pick in 2020.
Similar to the contract signed with free-agent linebacker Kwon Alexander, there was some sticker shock with the initially reported numbers on Ford's five-year $87.5 million agreement. It turns out their contracts are similar. Both are low-risk deals for the 49ers.
Ford will earn $20.5 million in his first season with the team, according to OverTheCap.com. His pay includes an $8 million signing bonus and a $7 million roster bonus. His salary for his second season does not become fully guaranteed until April 1, 2020. It is guaranteed for injury only.
Ford's yearly base salaries on his five-year contract are:
$4.75 million in 2019
$13.65 million in 2020
$15.15 million in 2021
$16.15 million in 2022
$16.15 million in 2023
Ford will also receive $46,875 per-game roster bonuses (up to $750,000 per season) for every regular-season game in which he plays. He can earn an addition $500,000 annually if selected to the Pro Bowl.
Ford's fifth year with the Chiefs was a stand-out season statistically. He had career-highs in forced fumbles (seven) and sacks (13). He was selected to his first Pro Bowl. The 49ers see his potential but also have planned ahead if that season is an anomaly.
The 49ers hedged their bets in regards to injury as well. Ford had two back surgeries, his last performed in 2017. That season was cut short for him after only playing in six games. If Ford does not pass a physical after his first season they could release him with marginal consequences.
The 49ers could release Ford before next season and only incur $6.4 in a dead money cap hit.
It seems like the contract is weighted heavily towards the team but it was attractive to Ford as well. As a franchised player, he was scheduled to make $15.4 million in 2019. His contract with the 49ers gives him a raise just over $5 million in guaranteed money.
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The 49ers had nearly $70 million in cap space heading into the offseason but they also need to look ahead as they likely want to lock down DeForest Buckner with a multi-year deal in the near future. They will also be able to begin negotiations with tight end George Kittle on a long-term contract after the 2019 season.
Contracts such as the ones they worked out with Alexander and Ford are structured to allow the team to have financial flexibility for the future.