Niners looking to clear room under new cap

The NFL salary cap for the 2013 season will rise to $123 million from $120.6 million in 2012, and that's good news for the 49ers, who have about $1 million of cap space below that new figure and will be looking to clear out more room under the cap before free agency begins March 12.

An NFL Players Association official familiar with negotiations over the new cap figure told The Associated Press this week of the increase to $123 million. The official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.

The increase, which is larger than some in the NFL had anticipated, is a result of greater-than-expected revenues last season – primarily from NFL Properties – and a jump in projected league revenues, according to the official.

The 49ers currently are approximately $1 million under the new cap figure, but that space under the cap is expected to increase to $9.5 million after the reported trade involving quarterback Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs is finalized when the 2013 fiscal NFL year begins later this month.

The 49ers can gain an additional $3 million in cap space by releasing kicker David Akers, one of several options the team may consider to clear more room under the cap to pursue free agents.

The 49ers have several veterans who can become free agents March 12 that the team will consider giving new contracts, particularly All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson, who played the 2012 season on a one-year tender contract after the team designated him with the franchise tag.

Other notable veterans that can become free agents are tight end Delanie Walker, receivers Randy Moss and Ted Ginn Jr. and defensive linemen Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean Francois.

The NFL and its players union worked together to establish a cap number based on parameters established under their collective bargaining agreement. The current 10-year CBA was signed in August 2011, ending the owners' lockout of the players.

One of the main areas of contention during that labor dispute was how to divide the more than $9 billion in annual league revenues, a figure that will keep rising, particularly once the NFL's new television contracts kick in for the 2014 season.

Those additional revenues will be reflected in the salary cap for 2015, which is expected to see a more significant increase than the roughly 2 percent uptick from 2012 to 2013.

There was no salary cap in 2010, the final year of the old CBA. In 2011, the first year under the present deal, the figure was $120.375 million.

Over the next four seasons, from 2013-16, each of the NFL's 32 clubs will be required to spend an average of at least 89 percent of the salary cap in contract dollars, while overall league spending must average 95 percent in that span. That sort of minimum cash spending did not exist under the old CBA.

Another significant change under this agreement: owners and players divide types of revenues at different rates. Players receive 55 percent of revenue from the league's national TV and other media deals; 45 percent of licensing and national sponsorship deals, including NFL Properties; and 40 percent of local club revenues.

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