Justin Smith's two-year extension was a team-friendly deal that created roughly $4.3 million in salary-cap space for the 49ers this year, according to those who have analyzed the numbers. Smith recently parted ways with his long-time agency, CAA, and negotiated the deal himself.
"He gave the team a huge, home-town discount," said former agent Joel Corry, who now writes for CBS Sports and the National Football Post.
Smith was due to earn $7.5 million in base salary this season and to count $8 million toward the salary cap, which would have been San Francisco's second-highest figure behind tight end Vernon Davis ($8.7 million). He will now earn $940,000 in base salary this season after converting his former base pay into a $6.56 million signing bonus, which is spread over the remaining three years of his contract. Smith also gets a $500,000 workout bonus and a $100,000 roster bonus this season.
His salary-cap figure drops to $3.73 million. That's the $940,000 base salary plus $600,000 in roster and workout bonuses plus the prorated portion of the signing bonus. Smith will have a base salary of $3.15 million next year and $2.65 million in 2015. Overall, the deal averages roughly $4.35 million a year.
Corry said that was more than half of the $9 million he believes Smith is worth per year. Corry noted that the six-year deal Smith signed with the 49ers in 2008 averaged $7.5 million a season.
"Based on his play, even though he is an older guy, has he done anything to warrant a pay decrease?" Corry said.
Indeed, the veteran defensive end has been perhaps the most valuable member of the 49ers defense in recent years, which was underscored by San Francisco's defensive lapse when Smith was injured late last season. Smith, 33, has been to four consecutive pro bowls but was entering the final year of his contract before signing the extension Wednesday.
Smith on Wednesday said his new deal, which he acknowledged was likely his last, was not about money. "It was about wanting to be here, wanting to play, having an opportunity to be on a great team," he said. "And go for the championship. That's what it's all about. Having that opportunity, I feel real lucky. Real fortunate."
The 49ers have signed every member of their 11-man draft class save first-round pick Eric Reid. They have one of the league's deepest and most talented rosters but still may need help if there are any more injuries at wide receiver. The team's top receiver, Michael Crabtree, tore his Achilles tendon in May, and the 49ers are hoping one of several inexperienced players can perform in a starter's role opposite Anquan Boldin this season.
The team also could extend the contract of one of its top young players, such as guard Mike Iupati. Also, Boldin has said he'd like a longer contract than the one-year deal with which he is entering the season.
-- Matt Barrows