Agent goes on record to criticize 49ers “bullsh-t” contract structure

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For at least the last five years, the San Francisco 49ers have used a subtle, and apparently non-negotiable, device to maximize their options in any/every given year regarding players with payments due to become fully guaranteed. Whereas most teams use guarantee triggers within the first few days after the waiver period in February or the first few days of the new league year in mid-March, the 49ers push the deadline all the way to April 1.

This gives the team a full opportunity to look around at all available options before renewing the commitment to the player by letting the guarantee vest instead of cutting or trading him. The 49ers can simply acquire an upgrade, and they can then cut or trade the player before the payment becomes fully guaranteed.

Agents privately have been complaining about this tactic for a long time. In a profile of Wasserman agents Doug Hendrickson and C.J. LaBoy from Vic Tafur of, Hendrickson complains openly about it.

The Niners’ contracts are bullsh-t,” Hendrickson tells Tafur. “They are team-friendly deals, they do the triggers in April versus normally in March and no one has really had the leverage to change it.”

LaBoy added that Colin Kaepernick’s much-hyped long-term deal from 2014, which wasn’t worth nearly as much as his then-agents leaked to multiple reporters, “perpetuated the problem,” because “he took the sh-ttiest deal in terms of structure.”

The player currently at the mercy of said sh-tty structure, masterminded and implemented by 49ers executive Paraag Marathe, is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. As Tafur notes, Garoppolo’s rolling guarantee structure delays the conversion of $15.7 million of his $23.8 million 2020 base salary until April 1.

This allows the 49ers to look at each and every veteran quarterback who is or who may be available (including, possibly, former Kyle Shanahan pupil Kirk Cousins) before cutting the cord on Garoppolo. It also gives the 49ers a chance to evaluate the incoming class of rookie quarterbacks at the Scouting Combine and, for most if not all of them, their Pro Day workouts. The 49ers also could accelerate the visit/workout timetable for the rookies in which they may have interest before having to make their decision about Garoppolo.

That’s the benefit of the structure to the team — and its detriment to players. If the 49ers don’t dump a guy like Garoppolo until April 1, teams looking for veteran quarterbacks may already have made other arrangements before Garoppolo hits the market.

Of course, the more likely reality is that teams will know Garoppolo is available, because the 49ers would try to trade him before cutting him. Still, the 49ers surely wouldn’t commence that process before acquiring a new quarterback, or developing confidence about a quarterback who will be targeted in the draft.

That’s the benefit of a structure that the 49ers — and only the 49ers — successfully impose on veteran players, with no one (other than Hendrickson) calling them out for doing it.

Not that it makes a difference. Since re-signing Kaepernick in 2014, the 49ers haven’t returned to the playoffs once.

48 responses to “Agent goes on record to criticize 49ers “bullsh-t” contract structure

  1. Armstead’s became fully guaranteed on March 13, so April 1 is not used in all 9er contracts. So it sounds like too many 49er players have crappy, whiny agents.

  2. In other words, the 49ers have a very smart contract and the agents and the players they represent weren’t smart enough to understand the reality of the terms.

    The agents had their players sign the contracts. No one had a gun to their head. A 4th grader should have been able to understand the reason for an April 1 date.

    Which just goes to show how smart these agents are or aren’t.

  3. Let me be probably the 27th commenter to ask some version of this: Then why sign with them?

  4. Extremely misleading. Armstead contract for 2019 — his fifth-year option — became guaranteed on March 13 because that’s what the CBA requires.

  5. Interesting considering the smarter than the average Talking Heads typically praise San Francisco for the exact same reason.

  6. Yeah I hear you, Florio, but even so, it still proves the 49ers aren’t breaking any rules. And my original point that it’s down to whiny agents’ poor negotiating skills, still stands.

  7. joetoronto says:
    July 23, 2019 at 6:57 am
    And they still suck
    The Raiders first stringers got beat by Mullens and the Niners 3rd stringers 34-3. Let that sink in. 34-3. I’m not a Raiders hater, but your team is garbage.

  8. Players sign with the 9ers because they pay pretty well and usually pay the gurantees upfront but in exchange they get more flexibility to pull the plug on the contract.

    It’s not a bad deal for either side because even if you get cut by the 9ers you still likely got most of the guranteed money from the deal and you can just sign up with another team.

  9. Bull*hit is in the eye of the beholder. It isnt bull*hit to the free agent player that got signed in place of a current player that isnt performing.

    This contract structure gives all players a fair shake, both currently signed and free agents.

  10. Everything is negotiable.

    If the 49ers want a later trigger date, then the agent should have fought back or ask for more money as compensation up front.

    Do your job.

  11. why would anyone want to sign with that tire fire team in Clara led by the arrogant king Lynch and the weasel Shanahan?

  12. Not a 9ers fan, but I find it hard to feel too bad for a player and their agent who complain AFTER signing a sh*tty contract. Apparently, there are 31 other teams not participating in this practice. It seems juvenile to enable shady practices and then complain to the media after the fact.

  13. So, he’s saying my client signed a huge contract, but he stinks up the joint, he should still get “paid”, and, meanwhile, the team should not be able look for a better player to replace him. Why don’t these guys start a new league, impose their own rules, and let’s see how long it lasts? My bet, it wouldn’t be for very long.

  14. dave_bords says:
    July 23, 2019 at 6:20 am
    So SF management is doing a good job?


    Also comes across as mgmt (i.e., the team) having zero loyalty and treating players like cogs. Fans then get hypocritical and pissy about players who act in their own interest — leaving to make more elsewhere instead of taking a hometown discount or signing for as much as possible and sucking up cap space so the team can’t build a well-rounded roster.

  15. I would be surprised if the 49ers are going to be able to do this anymore now that players know they are the only NFL team to get away with it. The 49ers players/ draftees are now going to worked their agents or just try to avoid signing as FA to the 49ers. This will back fire on the 49ers from now on.

  16. The 49ers are VERY generous with their upfront money. The first two years are very lucrative for these men. After that the team builds in flexibility to prevent long term restrictions.

    It works out well for both the players and the team.

    If that doesn’t work for the agents then take your player someplace else.

  17. It must really stink for an agent to have to negotiate terms and do his actual job. Much easier when the team just hands you favorable deals and you can get back to your golf round.

  18. I’m struggling to see anything unfair about this.
    Sounds like an agent whining to the media to gain leverage.

  19. “As Tafur notes, Garoppolo’s rolling guarantee structure delays the conversion of $15.7 million of his $23.8 million 2020 base salary until April 1.”

    Just curious, am I the only one that thinks the $41M in cash Garoppolo was handed last year ($28M of it in the form of a straight up roster bonus) might have influenced his decision to accept that contract language?

    Agent speak…smdh

  20. And the 49ers are usually bashed for overpaying on these same contracts! Is it that hard to believe that the 49ers are paying extra for the additional flexibility? I do not hear the agents complaining about it when they are parading around the max value numbers right after the contract is signed.

  21. Fans want their teams to act wisely. This is a good move. Players are still getting paid, just less options if you get cut.

  22. It is pretty simple:

    Stupid agent/player (Sherman) equals team friendly deal.

    Smart agent, stupid GM equals player friendly deal (Cousins deal).

    Moral of the story hire smart people and avoid publicity seekers.

  23. Good on the 49rs but in the end, the 49rs will not be able to entice top notch talent to join the team given their contract structure.

    Just Saying

  24. Agent: “We was robbed!”

    Mgmt: “You advised your guy to sign the freaking contract. Was there something hidden in that contract or was it right there in black and white?”

    Player: “My agent just blamed my team for HIS mistake. Welp, time for a new agent.”

  25. The 9ers are generous in upfront money and the takeaway is more team flexibility. Always a give and take in these things. The 9ers cant be accused of being cheap though, that’s for sure.

  26. Aw muffin. Don’t like the contract, don’t sign it. What good is whining to the media going to do? Other than make you look like a sniveling idiot who is bad at his job.

  27. The 49ers did some really shady stuff in the early years of the salary cap, but this just seems like good FO management.

  28. “now that players know they are the only NFL team to get away with it. ”

    You think this is news to players? They sign with the 49ers because the team is very generous with upfront money, bonus payment schedule and first year salary. The 49ers have one of the very best cap guys on football running things, a Stanford business school graduate so its not a shock that they are very creative with their contract structure.

  29. Garoppolo has been earning tens of millions of dollars for basically doing nothing the past two seasons. How is this contract in the teams’ favor?

  30. they need that structure for Garrappollo. he is going to get hurt, again. 5-11 this year, they strip it down to the studs and tank for Trevor.

  31. When you think about it the agent is essentially crying that he wasn’t good enough at his job to get better terms for his clients;. Not what I would want to be telling the world about how good a job I’ll do for you.

  32. Wouldnt expect anything more from a trash team/organization like the San Fran Niners.

  33. Why is that bad. 49ers are the best at Cap management and finding ways out of contracts. An agent whining only means other teams need to copy this.

  34. Solid players don’t even worry about it since they’re confident they’re too good to cut. This agent probably represents a lot of 2nd rate talent.

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