Kaepernick’s deal helps sign other guys in one way: It doesn’t pay market value

After signing, with an old-old-school quill pen, his new contract, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick explained to the media that he agreed to the deal as designed in order to help the team sign and keep other players.

“Part of the way the contract is written and the way it was negotiated was so they would be able to sign other players,” Kaepernick said.  “That was something that my agents and the organization worked out and they felt like this was something they would be able to get other players with.”

So how does the deal accomplish that objective?  Based on the full numbers we obtained late Wednesday night, Kaepernick’s paltry (relative to other franchise quarterbacks) signing bonus of $12.328 million results in only $2.05 million per year in cap space through 2019 being devoted to the up front payment.  Coupled with his base salary of $645,000 and workout bonus of $100,000, Kaepernick’s cap number for 2014 stands at a very manageable $2.795 million.

Next year, when his salary moves to $12.4 million with a $2 million per-game roster bonus and a $400,000 workout bonus, the cap number spikes to $16.85 million.  Which is roughly what his cap number would have been if the team had used the franchise tag on Kaepernick next year.  Of that amount, $2 million goes away if Kaepernick doesn’t take at least 80 percent of the snaps or if he fails to lead the team to the Super Bowl or to be named first-team or second-team AP All-Pro.  So the cap number could be as low as $14.85 million.

For 2016, the salary moves to $13.9 million with another $2 million in per-game roster bonuses and $400,000 workout bonus.  That’s a cap number of $18.35 million, which will drop to $16.35 million if he doesn’t take at least 80 percent of the snaps or if he fails to lead the team to the Super Bowl or to be named first-team or second-team AP All-Pro in 2014 and 2015.

The cap numbers, subject to the annual $2 million de-escalator, for the rest of the deal are $20.95 million in 2017, $21.45 million in 2018, $23.25 million in 2019, and $23.4 million in 2020.

The deal allows cap space to be created in any given year via a restructuring that converts base salary to bonus money.  However, that reality applies in all long-term, big-money deals.  There’s nothing unique to the structure of the Kaepernick deal that makes it any easier to sign other players — other than the fact that the contract represents less than the current market value for franchise quarterbacks.

Over time, Kaepernick’s contract will reflect less and less of the current market value for franchise quarterbacks.  If the top of the market was a true $20 million per year when the cap was $123 million per team, what will the top of the market become when the cap spikes above $140 million in 2015?  By 2016, it could surpass $160 million.  If the top quarterbacks received 16.26 percent of the available cap when the per-team limit was $123 million, the top of the market will be $26 million by the time the cap moves to $160 million.

Kaepernick, with a deal that pays out $13 million in 2014, as much as $14.8 million but as little as $10.4 million in 2015, as much as $16.3 million but as little as $11.9 million in 2016, as much as $18.9 million but as little as $14.5 million in 2017, as much as $19.4 million but as little as $15 million in 2018, as much as $21.2 million but as little as $16.8 million in 2019, and as much as $23.4 million but as little as $19 million in 2020, quickly will find himself well below the going rate for true franchise quarterbacks — no matter how well he plays as he adds to a career that consists for now of only 23 regular-season starts but several memorable postseason performances.

77 responses to “Kaepernick’s deal helps sign other guys in one way: It doesn’t pay market value

  1. If the 9’ers could draft worth a hoot, then they could afford to let older vets walk. But when you draft injured players or 1st round busts; you must pay the vets which in turn screws up the cap.

  2. This contact makes you wonder what Russell Wilson will be worth considering they are within the division and are now running into players getting out of Rookie-Wage-Scale deals.

  3. So basically they paid a below average passer below market money and can get out of the contract anytime they want. Baalke is finally earning his money. The whole $126 million is just smoke and mirrors to protect Kaepernick’s fragile psyche. I see what you did there Trent.

  4. QBs aren’t commodities, there isn’t a set market value for one versus another, every QB is worth a different amount, and each QB should be analyzed on whether that QB got too much or too little for what that QB should be getting. And that all comes down to one’s opinion of how to calculate that.

  5. This has to be a joke ^^^ lol

    Recent 49ers picks that are STILL with them include:

    Willis, Bowman, Kaepernick, Staley, V Davis, Gore, Crabtree, Iupati, A Davis, K Hunter, Bruce Miller, Aldon Smith, Culliver, Reid, Patton…

    Should I continue? Aside from Gore that’s all in the last 5-6 years as their CORE. They keep their guys which is why they’re successful recently.

    They probably have one of best draft records recently (behind Seahawks).

  6. Sets up perfectly for RW3 to get a similar contract and allow the team to sign some big names in addition to keeping their current team in place.

    Key difference – Russell has won a SB and can realistically achieve the different bonuses within the contract.

  7. The de-escalator seems like a given to not be triggered because they are all “or” clauses. Barring significant injury what are the odds he doesnt take 80 percent of the snaps? If he does’t, what are the odds he accomplishes any of the others. That whole section seems to me to boil dow to, if he remains the starting quarterback for 13 games, he gets all his money.

  8. “The contract represents less than the current market value for franchise quarterbacks.”

    “The contract sets a record for the highest amount ever in guaranteed money.”

    You might want to make a decision about the value of the contract.

  9. This was a brilliant contract. Great job Niners. The 49ers have been to 3 straight NFC Championship games because they make smart decisions like this. Obviously there are people who hate for stupid reasons, but most intelligent people know why the 49ers are doing so well. They have a great organization from top to bottom.

  10. This means we get to ask after each and every game, “Was this a $2,000,000 effort?”

    I predict it will be fun!

  11. So humerous to follow this…first a colossal contract foolishly given to an unproven passer, now a under market deal for a franchise QB. Both sides have outs on these deals, cut the player for the team, holdout for the player. If he excels, he will get a new deal. This deal strikes a good balance for both sides in 2014. What comes after this we don’t know.

  12. Or, maybe Kap’s deal is actually fair market value and other teams have been overpaying. I think I’ll go with that angle, personally.

  13. Shocker. A qb all about putting up empty numbers was all about signing the biggest contract no matter how empty the numbers were. At least he gets to brag to his Miami buddies about the number. Brees, Rodgers and the mannings would never sign that contract. Different breed of player though.

  14. Why do so many people hate Kap? I just don’t understand, he has been lights out in most of the big time games he has played in and he isn’t working with much to throw to. As a Vikings fan I would love to have him as our QB, especially after what he has done to to Packers in his career.

  15. It’s clearly a ‘prove it’ deal. He hasen’t won a SB yet so he’s not getting a $20M/yr deal. The team is saying we appreciate your hard work and think you can continue to improve, but we’re not saddling ourselves with a huge contract that will impact our ability to continue to keep the team competitive in the future.

    It’s a great move and ANY team would love to have hit on a QB draft pick and be able to keep him with a contact like this.

  16. It’s a win-win deal, and a testiment to showcase this young star’s growth. He know’s that his success is predicated by having a strong team around him; from the get-go he wanted to have a deal in place which enables the team to sign/re-sign key players, which in turn only helps his bid to reach all of the salary escalators. A humble man from humble beginnings, with lots of dedication to his craft. Admitedly he’s mentioned that he needs to work on his progressions. For a kid that’s definitely not reached his ceiling, what he’s accomplished in his relatively short tenure is remarkable and whoever want’s to deny that can go right ahead. He put the team first with this deal, and bet on himself to earn every penny of it. It leaves the team with ample flexibility to stay competitive for the long term.

    For all the talk about him choking in big moments – he’s got more road playoff wins than Young and Montana combined; and is two passes shy of winning one super bowl, and making another one. People forget that he was the catalyst in both of those games in which without him leading the charge, the 49ers would’ve been blown out in both contests.

  17. The Player’s Union should veto this contract. Never has a contract been so lopsided toward ownership since the Ricky Williams – Master P fiasco.

  18. Not a 9ers fan but good for him on getting his money, when you think you have the right guy in place you spend to keep him bottom line. It has happened in the past and will continue to happen no matter what we think.

  19. Contracts are a function of timing and performance. Jarius Byrd just got paid more than Ed Reed or Troy in their prime.

    Is he better than them? Of course not.

    Timing people.

  20. This contract initially meant that the Seahawks would have to pay more for Wilson, now they do, but this kind of contract may be the new way to do things, thus saving the Seahawks some cash (the injury clauses will catch on)

  21. Stil a lot of money that he deserves for being one of the young QBs who have played well when it counts. He still has a lot of growing to do on and off the field, but what is the reason to scrutinize this contract so closely. We know NFL contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Just ask Peyton Manning how fast the Colts threw him away when he got hurt, and they knew Andrew Luck was waiting at the top of the draft. Stop hating. He still has more money than all of us, so I’d say he’s winning.

  22. Yes, I found his 3 turnover 4th quarter choke against the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game. A “memorable post season performance.”

  23. You hear that kids? If you grow up to be the only 49er QB to ever lose a Super Bowl you too can earn big bucks. He can buy a lot of Dolphins hats with that cash.

  24. “The quill pen is a Niner tradition people. Try to keep up.”

    Lots of players been signing with quill pens. It isn’t a niner thing.

  25. “Russell Wilson at $25 million per year would cripple the Seahawks franchise. He is a game manager and nothing more.”

    I keep seeing this tripe posted by people that don’t understand the QB position.

    ALL QB’s need to be game managers.

    Some QB’s (Like RW) are able to play above that.

    2013 passing.. fourth most efficient in the league

    QBR rating of over 100 for first two seasons….

  26. If Russell Wilson is what people mean when they say “game manager,” then … wow … I hope Jake Locker grows into one of those!!

    – Titans Fan

  27. Not hating on the guy but it sure seems like a lot of money to throw at guy that’s an OK QB the talent flashes at times so maybe it’s the he’s going to keep improving I don’t know ,props to him and the 9ers for getting it done and out of the way.
    Maybe now he can afford to get a hat that’s the correct size and not one that looks like it’ll fit over his helmet.

  28. Yea real bad draft picks: Frank Gore, Joe Staley, Patrick Willis, Navaro Bowman, Aldon Smoth, Mike Ipati, Vernon Davis, Kap, Crabtree, Lee. Three NFC championship games and one SB. Terrible

  29. If Russel Wilson and Flacco won a superbowl with a great defense and running game…..

    why hasn’t Kap done the same with just as good of a defense and running game?

    hmmmm makes you wonder.

  30. I truly don’t get the hate on Kaepernick or most of the other venom that is spewed on this site.

    The odds that an athlete even makes it to the NFL & becomes a starter let alone become starter is like winning the Power Ball. The difference is that these guys worked their tails off their entire lives to win the to get there. For those of you who don’t know Kaepernick’s story this was a kid who was put up for adoption b/c his birth mother couldn’t afford to raise him. Personally I applaud success stories like his.

  31. The more the 49ers pay Kap the harder it will be for Seattle to sign Wilson. Wilson has won a super bowl and is going to want more money. I’m sure Seattle will not let Wilson walk out the door when it comes time to talk about his contract.

  32. As a Niners fan, I’m incredibly happy with this deal. It’s back loaded and incentive laden, the de-escalators will ensure that either 49ers are winning SBs and compensating Kaep appropriately or giving Niners the ability to cut ties and move on. Brilliant move Niners FO , brilliant!

  33. $2MM in per-game roster bonuses means A TOTAL OF $2MM over the course of the season, or $125K per game.

  34. His legal problems in Florida obviously hurt his bargaining position so this sounds appropriate. He’s not a top 10 quarterback and he won’t be paid like a top 10 quarterback

  35. just imagine what Luck and RG3, who are much higher potential, will command…. and to a lesser extent, Wilson, who is probably not as good but has a ring

    don’t think Newton or Dalton are more than game managers though.. and should not get paid

  36. Below market value? I think someone has been visiting Daryl Washington a bit too much.

    I’ve never seen a nine figure contract handed out to a 1 read QB.

    What is the going rate for a 1 read QB these days if ~110 million isn’t it?

    If that’s the rate for a 1 read QB, how about a real passing QB that can throw for over 200 yards per game average, and have over 60 percent completion percentage?

    …and then how much above that do you pay the guys passing for 4000-5500 yards per season, year in and year out, along with 63-70 percent completion percentage, and 40-58 Td’s?

    Also remember those All-Pro designations in the contract many times go to ‘name’ guys rather then the guys that actually deserve it. They also tend to go to guys who are on good teams.

    Also remember mobile QB’s are injury prone, and when injured they have more of their ‘game’ that they can lose. RGIII already has blown out his knee, and how was he last year? If you said, not the same person, you would be right. Perhaps in his youth he’ll return to form, but he had more to lose, and when he did, it showed.

    What is Kaep if he doesn’t have his legs? A non-mobile 1 read QB. If that happened, even with the de-escalators, it’s way too much.

    I’m not convinced the guy can take the throwing and running hits 16 games a season for the life of the contract. I’m not convinced any mobile QB can long term. At some point he needs to learn how to play QB to supplement declining/lost due to injury athleticism.

    If a RB’s athleticism declines around 30, yet passing QB’s can play to 40, what makes Kaep or any mobile QB that escapes major injury any different?

    He’ll be 33 during the 2020 season, so this deal will probably not be finished before his legs start declining, even without any potential injuries.

    But again, a pocket passer doesn’t rely on his legs. Elway once had wheels, but he was a pure passer as well. He won his championships as a pure passer, not a runner. Wilson is much more of a pure passer then Kaepernick, and has a much brighter long term future imo. I hope he doesn’t, but that’s what I see.

    These are valid concerns about Kaepernick. He relies on his legs too much, and without them he doesn’t have Wilson’s skills to fall back on. He will have to learn them, if he is capable. We’ll see.

    But whatever happens one thing is sure, Kaep has enough money to potentially secure his future monetary needs. He’s in that game now. He has enough money to survive anything, provided he not be a moron with his finances and doesn’t trust Wall Street.

  37. This is a fantastic contract for the Niners and for smart teams that have young QBs. I was afraid that that moronic Flacco deal was going to be the trend (even though Baltimore is a smart team, that deal is abhorrent). Now, with this structure, guys that are good and young and play on smart teams like the Seahawks, Colts, and Eagles have a good contract structure to follow. The problem is teams like the Dolphins or ESPECIALLY the brain dead Washington D.C. professional football team are going to give their young QBs super stupid deals making negotiating for smart teams more difficult. I can see Dan Snyder giving RGIII a piece of the team and the ability to coach and GM the team. If I am Seattle, Indy, or Philly I would sign my QB sooner than later to a Kap-Like deal before Snyder destroys his cap to give RGIII the dumbest contract in sports (including the Kobe deal)

  38. Happy the guy got his money–but both Kap and Wilson should give half their money to all the players on their defenses, who are really responsible for the big contracts these QBs have gotten or will get. These guys have benefited hugely from having great defense and running game. Neither is going to carry a team in the way that Brady, Brees or Manning do.

  39. This guy taking less for his team really surprised me. Here we always expect people to be selfish and greedy when given the chance. Its all good, but Santa Clara will exploit this and cut him like yesterdays news if he continues to get owned by my Hawks. If so, he can come up and back Dangeruss up for a few mil and win a few rings! Now only if he could learn to read, NOT!

  40. I live in Nevada, so go Kap go. I grew up in Seattle, so Choke Kap Choke. In other news, why are the whiner faithful taking this opportunity to try and bash Wilson? You only wish you had a “Game Manager”, not one who can’t win the BIG game.

  41. it allows the 49ers to sign other players in that they have released the QB. what a real DA for being naive enough to sign that contract. kaep should have gotten all his guaranteed money in the first 3 years of the contract and then been done with it. this is the nfl. they will pass you up at any time if they have a way out. look how you got your job, kaep.

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