The nugget leaked preliminary regarding the six-year contract extension signed by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is that it’s worth “up to” $126 million, and that it pays out $60 million “guaranteed.”
That information raises more questions than it answers.
“Up to” means maximum value. Which means there are triggers that Kaepernick must hit to get all the money. Without knowing what the triggers are or how much of the money is tied to incentives or escalators, it’s impossible to know how much Kaepernick actually will earn.
The impression created — correct or otherwise — is that Kaepernick becomes the highest-paid player in the league. Until the full details can be examined, there’s a chance it isn’t true.
Ditto for the “guaranteed” money. Without specifying the amount fully guaranteed at signing, it’s impossible to draw a line between how much he’ll definitely get and how much he absolutely, positively will earn only if he suffers a career-ending injury.
Undoubtedly, it’s a strong deal. Perhaps too strong for the 49ers to pay, given that they had Kaepernick under contract for another year. With only 23 career regular-season starts at stretches last year when he was ordinary at best, the Niners may be taking more of a risk than they should, especially since Kaepernick’s mobile style makes him more susceptible to injury.
The truth about the deal eventually will come out, after Kaepernick and his agents have run a victory lap based on exaggerated information. It’s not the first time that’s happened, but given the dollars at play there’s a chance it’s the most egregious example yet of puffed up contract numbers.