Why did the 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick strike a seven-year deal seven weeks before the loose, artificial deadline of the launch of training camp? One theory making the rounds is that the 49ers wanted to get a contract in place before Kaepernick hired an agent who wouldn’t have agreed to such a team-friendly deal.
I ran that notion past Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com on today’s edition of PFT Live, asking Matt whether he’d heard it and whether he bought it.
“I have heard that and yes, I’m buying it,” Maiocco said. “Kaepernick is a pretty loyal guy and I don’t I think that at this point, yes, there were agents kind of swarming around and trying to get in his ear, but I think he was going to stick with Scott Smith at XAM Sports regardless. Still, I think that the 49ers believed, and as it turned out rightfully so, that their best chance of getting a deal done, an easy deal done, a deal done that doesn’t even push up against that self-imposed time frame of training camp was to get something done with this representation. So, it certainly worked out for them.
“How much of Scott Smith’s inexperience in negotiating these kind of deals factored into it? I’ll tell you what, just the initial reaction from Kaepernick is that he knew what he was getting into. He talked about it yesterday, [saying] it’s not all about the money. But it’s the agent’s job to handle that, to insulate the client from that kind of thinking and get the best deal he possibly can for his client, and I don’t think there’s any question that Colin Kaepernick’s agent did not get the best deal he possibly could for his client.”
The reaction from league insiders regarding certain aspects of the deal has been swift and harsh. Some have pointed to the decision to delay the transformation of money guaranteed for injury only to fully-guaranteed payments for five years. Others have noted that the full duration of the contract — seven years — ties Kaepernick to the team for too long, especially at a time when the salary cap is commencing a mutli-year period of spiking. Still others have argued that the year-to-year nature of the contract reduces Kaepernick’s security by giving the team an annual out, with little or no financial ramifications.
As one league insider explained it to PFT, Kaepernick’s decision to accept an annual trigger of April 1 for the conversion of injury-only guarantees to full and complete guarantee represents the most glaring term of all. By giving the 49ers that much of an opportunity to move on, they’ll be able — after each of the first four years of the contract — to explore all options before making a final decision. From potential free agents to trade targets to the next class of draft picks, an April 1 deadline gives the team a much greater ability to make an informed decision than if the money shifted to fully guaranteed in the days after the Super Bowl.
And if the 49ers ever decide to cut the cord on Kaepernick, he’ll hit the open market weeks after the big money has flowed.
There’s a chance that agents who were pursuing Kaepernick will have the ammunition to pry him away from his current representation, now that more is known about the contract he signed. But it won’t matter; unless and until the current contract is terminated, Kaepernick’s current representation receives the full fee and any new agent gets nothing.