UPDATED (Tuesday, 2:29 p.m.): The New York Jets claimed KD Cannon off waivers on Tuesday. The Jets now assume the terms of the contract under which he originally signed with the 49ers after going undrafted. The 49ers are off the hook for the remaining $40,000 of guaranteed salary for the 2017 season.
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The 49ers signed a talented, undrafted rookie wide receiver for a signing bonus of $5,000. That is not a significant figure for a “priority free agent.”
But the figure that got a lot of attention in recent days when the 49ers parted ways with Baylor wide receiver KD Cannon was $45,000 guaranteed. That is a lot of money for a player who was not among the 253 prospects who heard their names called during the NFL draft.
Cannon ranks third in Baylor history in receptions (195), receiving yards (3,113) and touchdowns (27). He was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds. It was the fourth-fastest time among the 51 wide receivers in attendance.
There were 32 wideouts drafted. The 49ers selected Trent Taylor of Louisiana Tech in the fifth round.
Obviously, Cannon came to the 49ers with some question marks. And after the first practice of the team’s rookie minicamp, Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group observed, “Cannon didn’t show much urgency or hustle.”
The one thing an undrafted rookie cannot do when he steps onto the field for the first time is give the appearance – or act as if – he is not going to do everything in his power to compete hard for a job.
The 49ers released Cannon and signed rookie camp invitee B.J. Johnson of Georgia Southern, who immediately impressed the coaching staff with his approach.
So it could be said that the 49ers just wasted $45,000 on Cannon without giving him an opportunity to adjust his attitude. But the last thing any team wants to do – especially a new regime that’s trying to “change the culture” – is spend precious time attempting to light a fire under an undrafted rookie.
The case with these partial salary guarantees that are becoming more and more popular in the NFL does not mean the 49ers are immediately responsible for that money. There is standard offset language in the contract.
If Cannon ends up on a 53-man roster – or even five weeks on a team’s practice squad – and earns $40,000 or more from another NFL team this season, the 49ers will not owe him another penny.
Cannon appeared on the league’s waiver wire on Monday. If another team claims him before the deadline on Tuesday at 1 p.m. (PT), the new team will pick up the contract and the 49ers are off the hook for everything but the original $5,000 signing bonus.
But only if there is no place for him with any other team this season, will the 49ers be forced to follow-through and pay the entire $45,000 guarantee.