Playoff wins speak volumes in the NFL, so it should come as no surprise that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is on the hunt for a mega-contract in the same neighborhood as Jay Cutler and Tony Romo.
At just 26 years of age with less than two years as a starter under his belt, Kaepernick has led the 49ers to twice as many playoff wins as Cutler and Romo combined, despite the two having 16 years of combined NFL experience.
According to Spotrac, Kaepernick represents a total $1,630,454 cap hit in 2014 before the contract expires after next season. With an extension now a possibility, Kaepernick has laid down his wants, which include a number in the neighborhood of $18 million per year, according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe:
The 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick began discussions on a new contract extension at the combine, and sources tell us that the three-year veteran wants a deal similar or slightly better than the ones given to Jay Cutler ($18.1 million per year, $38 million guarantee) and Tony Romo ($18 million per year, $40 million guarantee).
Volin added Kaepernick could play 2014 under his current base contract with the intention of cashing in next offseason.
To be fair to Kaepernick, he recently stated on ESPN Radio his desire for negotiations to not clash with the franchise's overall ability to build a contender, via Taylor Price of the 49ers' official website:
I think it’s a balance. You want to be paid fairly for what you feel like you’re doing in comparison to your peers. But at the same time, you have to realize, if we want to get Anquan Boldin back, if we want to get Donte Whitner to come back, we’re going to have to make moves to get them back. And there has to be room for everyone.
That’s something I’m going to let my agent and the organization try and figure out. But hopefully, it’s a position where we can assemble the best team we need.
Wins are a team stat, but they play a heavy role in quarterback contract talks throughout the league. It is the same reason Baltimore's Joe Flacco cashed in on a $120.6 million extension after a miraculous postseason run despite touting similar numbers to Cincinnati's Andy Dalton in the regular season.
Is Kaepernick worth $18 million per year?
So the San Francisco front office can huff and puff about Kaepernick's league-worst 54.6 completion percentage under pressure last season or his sub-60 percent overall completion average all they want, but his 21-8 record as a starter reigns supreme in negotiations.
Such is the cost of doing business in today's NFL. The salary cap was recently bumped to $133 million for good reason with the market about to see one of the biggest influxes of talent in recent memory after first-round rookies from the new CBA with a non-negotiable fifth year hit the market.
San Francisco is in a great position here despite the lofty numbers. With Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III all eligible for extensions next offseason, the 49ers have a chance here to set the new quarterback market rather than be controlled by it.