SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers' salary cap benefited this week when an additional $2 million in cap room was created as cornerback Tarell Brown unknowingly forfeited more than two-thirds of his salary.
But the 49ers might have also created some problems with their handling of the situation, according to four agents who have worked closely with the organization.
Brown lost a $2 million escalator, as his 2013 salary was lowered to $925,000, when he failed to take part in the team's offseason workout program. Brown chose to remain in the Dallas area and train with former Olympian sprinter Jon Drummond four times a week during the 49ers' offseason program.
Agent Brian Overstreet, whom Brown fired Thursday upon learning of his lost wages, did not inform Brown of the clause that was inserted into the deal when it was signed in October of 2009.
And the 49ers did not alert him, either.
Brown is clearly upset about the situation, which he learned about Thursday morning just hours prior to the 49ers' first practice of training camp. All of the agents contacted for this report said Overstreet, Brown and the 49ers share the blame. Overstreet did not return messages seeking comment. The 49ers, as a standard practice, do not publicly discuss contract matters.
Brown said Friday evening that he has spoken to the team. When asked if he was satisfied with where things stand with him and the 49ers organization, Brown answered, "No comment."
The agents agreed that 49ers general manager Trent Baalke or chief negotiator Paraag Marathe, while under no obligation to do so, should have contacted Brown to inform him of the ramifications of skipping the offseason workouts.
"The thing the 49ers have to do is make it OK," one agent told CSNBayArea.com. "They cannot afford to jeopardize the chemistry in the locker room. They got a good thing going, and they can't afford to rock the boat. That would be a disaster. They got to take care of this."
Said another agent, "The 49ers should've looked into his training, and if they feel he trained in good faith, allow him to keep the money. He's a good player, and the last thing they need is a disturbance in the locker room."
"As heartless as pro football can be, I think if they want to keep him around, they have to take care of the situation," said a third agent. Each of the agents interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Brown, 28, is a six-year NFL veteran who has started every game for the 49ers the past two seasons. He ranked tied for ninth last season among all cornerbacks who played 75 percent or more of the snaps, according to Pro Football Focus' rating system.
Brown enters the final year of a five-year contract extension he signed that will pay him just $8.2 million -- far below market value for a starter with his NFL experience.
The 49ers can put the saved money to good use. The team has spoken with guard Mike Iupati about a contract extension. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, outside linebacker Aldon Smith and wide receiver Michael Crabtree are other players who will command big money with their next deals. NFL teams are allowed to roll over unused cap money from one year into the next.
Or the 49ers can make sure the $2 million finds its way back into Brown's bank account -- perhaps as part of a multi-year contract extension.
Brown plans to interview several agents before finding new representation. He has already heard from some agents who believe he has recourse to get some of the money back.
"That's what I've heard," Brown said. "It has to take it's course. I hope so. That's all you can do is prepare for the worse and hope for the best."
"There's malpractice insurance that could be in play," one agent said. "Brian Overstreet is a lawyer and he's held to a higher standard. That's an issue that they will need to look at. But Tarell Brown's signature is on that contract. He should've known the requirements of his contract, too."
In the meantime, Brown admits it has been a difficult couple days, but he is trying to keep his concentration on football.
"When you go through a tough time, all you can do is rely on your family and rely on what you know, and that's getting back to business and playing ball," Brown said. "And that's my focus. It's an unfortunate situation. It's something I didn't know about. And at the end of the day, it's something I have to deal with and be a man about -- be professional."