The full Kaepernick contract details


In response to our item suggesting that the Colin Kaepernick deal, trumpeted as being worth “up to” $126 million with $61 million guaranteed contains plenty of fluff, a league source with knowledge of the deal sent the details to PFT, and multiple other sources have chimed in on the contents of the contract.

As expected, there’s plenty of fluff.

Technically, the deal has $61 million guaranteed, even though $6 million of the guaranteed salary could evaporate (more on that later).  Either way, only $13.073 million is guaranteed at signing.  It comes in the form of a $12.328 million signing bonus, a base salary of $645,000, and a workout bonus of $100,000.

For 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and part of 2018, the base salaries are guaranteed only for injury.  On April 1 of each year, the guarantees convert from injury only to fully guaranteed.  That gives the 49ers the ability to decide, in any given year, to move on from Kaepernick.  And with the deadline for the conversion of the guarantee coming on April 1, the 49ers can squat on his rights until several weeks after the start of free agency, making it harder for him to get paid elsewhere.

The base salary for 2015 is $12.4 million, guaranteed for injury only until April 1, 2015.

For 2016, the base salary is $13.9 million, guaranteed for injury only until April 1, 2016.

For 2017, the base salary is $16.5 million, guaranteed for injury only until April 1, 2017.

For 2018, the base salary is $17 million, $5.2 million of which is guaranteed for injury only until April 1, 2018.

The non-guaranteed base salary for 2019 is $18.8 million, and the non-guaranteed base salary for 2020 is $21 million.

In each year from 2015 through 2020, however, there’s a catch.  A big one.  The total payout potentially de-escalates by $2 million per year, with up to $12 million potentially going away.

Kaepernick can halt the de-escalation by taking, in any year of the deal, 80 percent of the snaps and if:  (1) the 49ers appear in the Super Bowl; or (2) Kaepernick is named a first-team or second-team All-Pro.  If he satisfies the requirement in 2014, the full $12 million remains.  If he fails in 2014 but succeeds in 2015, $10 million stays.  If he does it for the first time in 2016, $8 million remains.  If he does it for the first time in 2017, $6 million stays — and so on until 2019, when if he satisfies the requirement that year for the first time $2 million stays in the deal for 2010.

It’s a convoluted way to pump up the base value of the deal artificially, allowing Kaepernick and his agents to claim that the deal is better than it will be, unless he satisfies the requirements to stop the de-escalator this year.

The contract also includes, starting in 2015, a whopping $2 million per year in per-game roster bonuses, an amount that one source characterized as “massive” in comparison to similar deals.  It means that, for every game Kaepernick misses due to injury after the 2014 season, he loses $125,000.

Starting in 2015, $400,000 per year is tied to workout bonuses, which adds up to $2.4 million of the base value.

The contract also requires Kaepernick to purchase, with after-tax dollars, a disability policy that pays the 49ers $20 million if he suffers a career-ending injury.

As one source put it, Kaepernick can feel good about the deal because he has a lot more guaranteed money today than he had yesterday.  But the same source also added that the 49ers are nevertheless “thrilled” with the contract, which allows them to control Kaepernick’s rights for seven years and to move on after any of the next six seasons, if they ultimately decide that Kaepernick is more like the guy who struggled at times during the 2013 regular season and less like the guy who found the gas pedal in the playoffs.

If they keep him, the average payout will be low in comparison to other franchise quarterbacks, and the difference will become glaring as other franchise quarterbacks get new deals under a salary cap that is expected to continue to spike.

114 responses to “The full Kaepernick contract details

  1. They must be expecting him to get hurt with some of that lingo.

    Probably could if the oline is depleted and the defense loses key players. He would have to actually win the games instead of depending on the defense.

  2. Well if this is the real details, I’d say Baalke and Maraathe pulled it off brilliantly. They are never in a bind if Kap doesn’t EARN every cent.

  3. Appropriate for a good qb with tons of potential. And can only do 1 read and then has to run.

  4. And to think people thought Flacco’s contact was ridiculous…What has Kapernick done to deserve $61 million guaranteed?…

  5. I questioned Niners for giving that much at first but they seem to have set this all up perfectly. I guess the 6 year $126 talk was all hype. Looked damn good though lol. I hope he progresses nicely though, his inability to go through progressions cost us 2 seasons straight now. He locks on Crabtree in big moments even when it’s not completely necessary

  6. Question:

    Regarding the $12 million that could potentially de-escalated, is that also a yearly thing or does the full $ get unlocked after the achievement happening once?

    For instance, if he takes 80% of the snaps and appears in the super bowl this year, does the FULL $12 million become locked in? Or does the next years $2 million become locked in, and he need to make SB/1st or 2nd team all pro again to get the next $2 million installment?

    Either way, this looks like a fantastic deal for the 49ers now.

  7. Whoa. Appears that the 49ers protected themselves a lot with this contract.

    Ability to walk-away at anytime is telling.

    Good for them as RBs usually drop off in their late 20’s.

  8. The best QB ever to play in the NFL.

    San Francisco is going to Arizona in Feb with a 18-1 record and a Super Bowl trophy.

  9. call me crazy, but this is a gem of a deal for the 9ers…maybe the whiners who just looked at the max numbers will relax now.

  10. The key is that like nearly everything else the 49ers do, this make very intelligent salary cap sense. They’ve signed a franchise QB with a huge upside to a long term deal, that is salary cap friendly, and can be dissolved if he doesn’t work out. Get used to seeing the 49ers deep in the playoffs and beyond over the next 10 years.

  11. Makes you wonder what Christian Ponder thinks about this. He can only dream about such a deal…………..

  12. Kaepernick was great all last year except when he had the injured foot, which was nearly half the year. the Niners are very lucky to get him at such a low price.

  13. To all those that wish the Niners overpaid him, take a deep breath and breathe in all that is the Kap contract.

    Are you humbled yet by his $14 million per year average? Assuming he meets his performance requirements?

    GO NINERS!!!!!

  14. Niners know exactly what they’re doing. Very talented front office. They have cap and player flexibility in Kap’s contract. Kap believes he can obtain all those goals to max out his contract. If he reaches those goals that means the niners are winning. It’s a win win.

  15. I need some help, if possible. If his contract is guaranteed, for injury, why would he need an insurance policy that pays $20 M, to 49ers? This seems like they are doubling down, on what they owe/paid him.

  16. Sounds like a team friendly deal…so much for the contract killing the franchise talk! Great Work NINERS! A lot of EGG on PFT commentators faces today…love it.

  17. Congrats on your payday Kaep. The best offense he could ever toss against Seattle has just landed

  18. Wow…Pays to wait for the details to come in. As a 9er fan at first I thought to myself “why would the 9er’s agree to that?” Now I am wondering why Kap would agree to this. I can sleep much easier tonight lol

  19. I applaud Kaep for putting team interests ahead of his personal interests. Football is a business and it may backfire on him but I like him lot more now.

  20. I thought it better to wait than comment on the rumors of this deal. It is fairly structured and could help motivate their QB to become a better pocket passer and know when to run, so he can get through this contract maze collecting all those dollar bills along the way.

  21. I think the 2nd derivative of the formula, being negative, is a good thing, resulting in a convex y over x at about the right time here. Also, since the mean of the salary over time converges to 1 in 2014, we see the flux capacitors that enable cold fusion a distinct possibility. WTF?

  22. You mean the initial media reports were wrong and its actually a team friendly deal meant to help sign other players? You don’t say! I wonder if the hundreds of fans who posted today will take back their statements?

    Go Niners!

  23. Wow, Baalke is a wizard. That’s as team-friendly of a big contract I’ve ever seen.

  24. Wow. This is why 49ers are great and will be great for a long time, this front office is as savvy as it comes. This is as risk free of a franchise QB contract as you can get. WORST case scenario 49ers end up with a couple SB rings and an all-pro starter. Rest of the NFL: good luck catching up.

  25. This contract really isnt that bad. Especially if you consider guys like Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford, and Jay Cutler (total of 4 playoff wins combined) set the floor.

  26. He is a good QB with a solid team and coach. He could make those incentives. Being in the NFC West will not make any of that easy.

  27. As a fan with reservations about allocating so much cap space toward this QB, I feel a lot better about this deal after reading the details. And with the amount of money Kaepernick can potentially earn, he should be ecstatic as well.

    More than anything I’m relieved that it’s taken care of and now the team can focus on locking up Crabtree. I don’t think he gets enough credit for how important he is to the offense, but Crabtree knows and so does the front office. The way negotiations went with his rookie contract make me think his extension won’t go nearly as smoothly as with Kaepernick.

  28. Wait, so the only way to prevent the de-escalator is if he appears in the Super Bowl AND is 1st or 2nd team All-Pro? That’s going to make that de-escalator very difficult to achieve, definitely fitting into the definition of ‘fluff’.

  29. Great structure to the deal , very similar to how the Seahawks structure their deals to make sure they can still sign other key players and basically give the player a chance to bet in them self to achieve those bonuses ! Great structure expect the same from Seattle next year on a Russell Wilson .

  30. Can’t love or hate a guy getting paid any amount of money for what he does. I’m sure the devout poor will say that they’d turn down a ridiculous sum of money on here,but the reality is everyone would take any deal similar to that. Inflated wordings and weird stipulations don’t matter if you want to eat.

  31. You can say with a straight face that only $13 million is guaranteed?

    THIRTEEN Million dollars…Only $13 Million.

    $13 million is the down payment on a $26 million dollar house.

  32. Is the NFL the only league that has all these clauses in contracts its like they dont trust anybody to perform more than two years. Just sign a contract for 4 years £12m per year. Any faffing about ie murdering people, rape, bullying, tax dodging, drink driving and theft your gone. Simple

  33. “If they keep him, the average payout will be low in comparison to other franchise quarterbacks, and the difference will become glaring as other franchise quarterbacks get new deals under a salary cap that is expected to continue to spike.”

    Well, if they have to sign him to a big, long-term deal, at least they gave themselves some leeway to move on if Kaepernick doesn’t continue to develop, and if he does pan out, they might have something of a bargain. Lemon out of lemonades, I guess.

  34. the kid is worth every pennie. he has been to 2 nfc championship games. one superbowl, and one bad non holding call on crabtree against the ravens, away from a ring. he plays in the best div in football. with the nfls best Ds. dont believe it ask the BRONCOS.

  35. And all the while has not had a ton of wepons, until this yr. he makes Ds change the way they play. its not all about stats, but intangibles.

  36. Who is his agent? Terrible deal. Nothing guaranteed after this year and de-escalators. He’s gonna have to be an MVP to get chosen 1st or 2nd all pro anytime soon so he better pray he leads them to the Super Bowl. Should have waited and never signed that

  37. I am very interested in something. I wonder what figure(s) are used to calculate the agent’s commission. I’d appreciate it if Florio answered this rather than someone who doesn’t know just making up the answer and writing it emphatically.

  38. Wow talkin about jumping the gun. I hope I’m wrong but this deal is gonna haunt them. He needs to stop running and find the open man instead of doing a Mike Vick

  39. The deal sounds like a lot of hat without any cattle. Perfect for this guy.

  40. Exactly why it’s best to wait until you see the full contract breakdown before jumping to conclusions. Paraag made sure the 49ers had a way out of this contract if things don’t work out.

  41. I actually like deals like this. It rewards the player to keep playing and play at a high caliber, which is why they are giving him such money. But it also helps the team in-case the player never reaches his potential or gets injured. More NFL teams should make contracts like this.

    I know the Steelers would have benefited from a similar deal with Lamar Woodley, who never played up to potential after getting paid and kept getting hurt.

    Awesome job 49ers, as both sides win.

  42. I’m glad this contract makes Kaep more accountable for his production on the field. So this arrogant primadonna should focus more time on football and less in S Florida w back-up WR from Seattle. I wish they would of put a peanilty clause in his contract that would take away 25% of the salary the next time he states that he is not going to listen to Joe Montana’s advice when he stated that Kaeph should focus hanging in the pocket making reads than eye balling the primary WR, then trying run. Last time I looked Vick, RG3, and Cunningham never won a Super Bowl. Pocket QBs win Super Bowl, not running QBs.

  43. If you are a 49er fan, you got to love this deal. If you are Kap, you’re an idiot. Another team would have given him a REAL QB deal.

  44. essentially $30+ mill of completely overstated, intangible “wow-me” numbers.

    & the timing of the guarantees makes me feel that his agent wasn’t looking big picture here.
    otherwise, congrats Kap. That’s a nice life to live haha

  45. Makes total sense now. It’s all fluff to appease his fragile ego. He will never see that money. Niners know it. He knows it too. No one believed he was worth it and now we know he really isn’t.

  46. I ripped the contract yesterday for $61 million guaranteed , it’s only $13 million guaranteed and a team OUT every year.Great deal for the 49ers.

    Kaep’s agent should of at least have gotten the first 3 years fully guaranteed.

  47. Sounds like the deal Peyton signed in Denver, in his late 30’s, after a major neck surgery.

    Well, you wanted to be an “elite” QB Kap. You are just getting paid like an older one with potential career ending injury looming.

  48. The 49ers protected themselves well…… As they should have. Once that defense breaksdown, he’ll be the fall guy for they’re shortcomings!

  49. All you losers chiming in yesterday look pretty dumb don’t you?

    This is a great deal for both sides and gives the team great flexibility on a year to year basis.

    He’s right around 16-17 mill a year which he deserves. See Romo, Stafford, Cutler deals.

    And the signing bonus was small compared to other deals.

    All while Sam Shields gets 27 mil. in a the first two years of his deal.

    Iron Sharpens Iron

  50. Most inaccurate starting QB in nfl now. Can you imagine where all those throws will be flying off to once the pressure of his contract hits him?

  51. The guy put $13+ million in his pocket today. Even in high tax CA that’s a mighty good deal.

    And he lives in the beautiful San Francisco Bay area!

    Hard to fathom all the criticism here from the couch sitting, Walmart shopping crowd!

  52. This should be the standard for all QB’s and others. Performance based contracts in regards to productivity. Then protection from a QB who likes to run at any given moment. Its a great way to get Kap to start progressing to a more polished QB.

  53. Got to give Kap props for growing up and realizing he’s not that good.

    No one would have broken the bank for him and without a good running game and defense he’d be a poor man’s Jake Locker.

  54. He’ll be cut/traded or restructured before ’17, I GAURANTEEEEEE!!
    The dude aint top 5, maybe even aint top 10… he’s our generations Mike Vick….
    think about it….
    deja vu!

  55. If you think the Niners got Kap cheap with this deal or that they are crafty think again. In 2017 Kap will have a higher cap number then Aaron Rodgers.

    Think about that for a moment. Aaron Rodgers is a two time AP all pro, Super Bowl MVP, and NFL MVP. He holds NFL records in career passer rating, career TD to INT ratio ( despite his incredible season Nick Foles does not have a better career TD to INT ration the Rodgers)

    Colin Kaepernick couldn’t throw a Super Bowl winning TD pass despite having three attempts and being only five yards away from the endzone.

    Bottom line is that the Niners stilled ended up paying Kap a heck of a lot of cash. Never say second place isn’t worth it. Kap got more guaranteed cash then the QB who beat his team in the Super Bowl.

  56. If that’s how the contract is structured then it’s actually pretty close on a per-year basis to the deal the Bears just signed with Jay Cutler. Which makes it a pretty fair deal since they are about the same caliber of QB IMO.

  57. Drat! Was hoping Santa Clara gave this guy the vault. If he fails, which he will, he will be sent to the rubbish pile, I mean Minnesota. I love it when this guy plays the Seahawks defense!
    Go Hawks!

  58. Translation: Hey Kap, we don’t believe in your smarts, your work ethic, your arm or your leadership.

    We’ll let you earn top tier QB money by actually performing like a top tier QB; assuming you can. Otherwise we’ll pay you like the Randall Cunningham you’ve been to date.

  59. I’m guessing they are expecting buyers remorse here and left a way out just incase that comes to fruition. Absolutely hate the 49’ers but that is genius on their part. If he turns out to be like the oft injured RG3 or regresses like Dirty Sanchez they can just dump him or hold his rights till after free agency starts. How does the logo go? Smart, very smart.

  60. I wish more NFL contracts were like this. If Kap performs to his ability, he is going to get paid handsomely. If some things (as likely will be the case, given the nature of football) go wrong, he doesn’t get paid as well, but still sees good money. And if catastrophe strikes, the team has the ability to not be completely hamstrung by this deal.

    I don’t see why this is a bad thing. Why make contracts an either/or (as in “pay in full or get cut”) proposition? If you include the ability for a deal to get scaled back then teams don’t have to cut plays or demand paycuts as often, and no team would mind making good on all the “fluff”, as that means everything is going as hoped.

  61. Usually disability insurance pays the employee, not the employer. Is that even legal?

  62. Great deal for the team, not so much for Kap and the other young QB’s waiting in the wings. Its not a great deal for the individual and when some of the other young guys baulk at taking something with wording like that there gonna look selfish in comparison. Cant imagine the union is happy about it.

  63. Great deal for both parties.

    I think all kaep really wants to do it go to the big show and get paid.

    and if he does it will work out both ways.


  64. So basically, he gets the full amount. Half the time he’s made the super bowl and now that his WR core is stacked and Frank at the end of his career, he’s pretty much a lock for the pro bowl every year. The only way he misses out is if he gets injured but with the best O line in football, that’s not likely to happen either.

  65. What’s with you people saying it’s a bad deal? He’s going to make more his first year than most will make their whole life. It’s comical to hear someone say that’s not enough $$! At least he’s confident in his abilities

  66. It was definitely smart of the niners to structure the deal like this. But no matter how u spin it kaep is not worth that much money on a year to year basis. Unless he isn’t regressing he will be on the team being overpaid every year. They can atleast get out of it but year to year they will lose players and stuck with a qb who struggles to make throws and read inside the pocket. Niners will be good as always but kaep definitely got overpaid and the better of the niners on thus deal.

  67. the other thing a lot of people seem to be missing is that this is a six year extension, so including 2014 it’s a seven year contract. 126 over six years is 21 million/year max – over seven years it’s 18 million/year.

  68. Seems to me that not enough people are seeing the incentive that this kid has to be good…to be better than good. This isn’t about the Niners setting themselves up to walk away; this is about the Niners setting themselves up to be GREAT for a long time. To me, this contract says “Hey Kaep, show us you can take us to the promised land…show us YOU are the franchise”…and by signing it he is saying “I’m going to earn every drop of this contract”.

    Now we know better if history is a factor – but for the next 3-4 seasons, this Niners team is set up to do BIG things if Kaep can lead them and make plays…that’s his charge.

    I like it!

  69. This deal rocks. Kap all respect man. Finally a player who will put his playing ability on the line to EARN his money. He is saying I will bring my team the Super Bowl trophy and I am willing to put my paycheck on it. Go Kap and go niners. Harbaugh let Kap be himself this year as the dual threat he is not just keep him reserved and pass only. He is a dual threat let him be awesome at what he does best

  70. Kap left a lot of sure money on the table. Whatever you think about him as a player you know damn well that 2/3 of the league that have journeymen qb’s would have given him a huge contract with huge guaranteed dollars without all the fine print. Guess he really wanted to stay in S.F.

  71. What a joke of a franchise. Oh, lets put out this bullpoop looking contract to make everyone look good, KNOWING that the next day we will all be exposed…Yeah Santa Clara, you are so much smarter than everyone else.

  72. Time to fire your agent Krapernick. The 49er front office just used and abused you! (According to and assuming these details are fact.) I have a feeling this aint gonna end well.

  73. Would be nice if the article covered the cap implications in detail. It’s clear that the Niners got a good deal as far as not having to pay the guy if he craps out.

    I *think* they did well in not having a lot of dead money tied up, but it’s not clear what the cap implications are. Also what does “guaranteed for injury” mean? If the guy breaks his arm and then is so terrible he can’t start anymore, are the Niners on the hook cap wise?

  74. I love all of the Kap Haters who critique his play, saying that he’s now overpaid. Apparently guys like Tony Romo (18M), Jay Cutler (18.1M), Matt Ryan ($20.75M), Philip Rivers ($15.3M) and Matt Stafford ($17.67M) and their combined seven playoff wins are worth the money they’re being paid…

  75. My salary is fully guaranteed daily, right after I work all day. Of course, it’s not performance based. So I got that goin for me…

  76. Even through coaches are not part of the salary cap figure, I bet Harbaugh’s next contract won’t be so incentive based.

  77. Packers fan here,
    The contract looks very team friendly. They’ve locked him up for the next 7 seasons incl/14 without breaking the bank.

    The downside I see is 4 years down the road if he’s still competing at a high level, I could imagine him feeling substantially under paid, especially with negotiations that will be coming up for Newton, Luck, Wilson, etc. Hold out !?

  78. Harbaugh’s next contract…with who? It won’t be with the Niners – he’s worn out his welcome. When you’re a coach who goes NFC title game – Super Bowl – NFC title game in your first three seasons…and your team STILL seriously considers making a deal to trade you away (as Santa Clara did with Cleveland)…you know the relationship has gone sour.

  79. I love all of the Kap Haters who critique his play, saying that he’s now overpaid. Apparently guys like Tony Romo (18M), Jay Cutler (18.1M), Matt Ryan ($20.75M), Philip Rivers ($15.3M) and Matt Stafford ($17.67M) and their combined seven playoff wins are worth the money they’re being paid…

    I think all of those guys are overpaid, and I know I’m not alone. That being said…

    NONE of those guys have the kind of talent around them (especially on defense and the O-line) that Kaepernick does. You really think he’s won 4 playoff games in 2 years all by himself? Until he actually shows up to play in a road game against Seattle, he’s going to be open for criticism…

  80. You can’t be overpaid if the market has been set already. Romo, Cutler, Ryan, Rivers and Stafford all got deals BEFORE Kaepernick did so that is the market price…

  81. I’m suspicious of the comments left by those hating on Kap… saying he is just a RB and crappy QB, and that his new contract is a foolish move by the Niners.

    Something tells me some of these commenters secretly admire the guy, see his potential and talent, wish he was on their team, … and know they are about to be used and abused by him for years to come.

    Kap is a beast, watch out he’s going into video game mode this year!!! Last year was his first year starting, the Niners receiving squad sucked and had key injuries…. we our revamped now and so deep for years to come … what you don’t think the guy is going to keep getting better with his amazing athleticism , cannon arm, and work ethic!!??

  82. Almost all NFL contracts are all fluff. As they should be. It’s a produce-first, then get paid as long as you continue to produce league.
    There are no more super-bad contracts.

  83. that right there is what you call bells and whistles. who negotiated this deal for him? when the 49ers can get other players at the expense of your release, well that makes kaep a real naive SOB to sign the contract.

    kaepernick is no luck or newton but he could have done better than this.

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