Fred Warner contract details show backloaded deal

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Details of Fred Warner’s five-year, $95 million extension emerged and as with most 49ers contracts, the structure of the largest contract in NFL history for an off-ball linebacker shows it’s a relatively team-friendly deal.

The deal was broken down by Over the Cap. It’ll be five additional years on top of the final year on Warner’s rookie contract, so he’s signed in San Francisco through the 2026 season when he’s 30-years old.

As a result, his cap hits are relatively small the next couple years. Here’s how the break down:

2021: $3,636,547

2022: $8,164,000

2023: $18,525,000

2024: $24,500,000

2025: $23,250,000

2026: $20,786,000

Chances are if he continues playing at a high level, the contract will get restructured and extended beyond 2026 to knock down some of the larger cap hits.

It’s important to remember though that the cap, which is set at $182,500,000 this year is expected to see a significant jump in each of the next two years with steady increases beyond that. His cap numbers will still be significant, but they’ll chew up a smaller percentage of the cap by that point.

With $40.5 million guaranteed on the deal, it wouldn’t be incredibly expensive for San Francisco to get out from under the contract should something unanticipated go sideways with Warner’s career.

It’s $6,580,000 in dead money to release him with a post-June 1 designation next year. Then $5,000,000 in dead money for the next three years, and $2,536,000 in the final year.

Given the trajectory of the All-Pro’s career though, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the 49ers are looking to shed his contract while he’s in the middle of his prime.

San Francisco needed to get Warner paid before his rookie contract ran out. He’s the emotional lynchpin of their defense and the prototypical modern linebacker who’s a force in coverage and a sideline-to-sideline run stopper. It was hard to imagine the 49ers letting him get away after also trading away DeForest Buckner last offseason.

That’s no longer a worry though. Warner is the highest-paid linebacker in the league and the 49ers got it done with a relatively team-friendly structure.