San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick signed a massive six-year contract extension Wednesday, cementing his status as the franchise's signal-caller of the future through the 2020 NFL season.
Writer Steve Berman, founder of Bay Area Sports Guy, broke the news on Twitter:
Source: 49ers extend Colin Kaepernick through 2020 http://t.co/lK6Spqei9k— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) June 4, 2014
ESPN's Adam Schefter cited sources who disclosed the financial terms of the new deal, and the 49ers' official Twitter account then confirmed the agreement had been struck:
Colin Kaeprnick's 6-year deal is worth $110+ million, per sources. Heavy guarantees, too. Record guarantees.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 4, 2014
Kaepernick offered his thoughts on the deal via the 49ers Twitter:
Kaepernick: "I’m going to work and try to make sure I’m worth every penny of this.” #Kap2020— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) June 4, 2014
Kap’s goals between now and 2020? “Trying to win as many Super Bowls as I can.” #Kap2020— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) June 4, 2014
This is big news, as Kaepernick, 26, is being handed the reins of the offense and largely the foreseeable future of the franchise. General manager Trent Baalke and Co. are banking on the dynamic Kaepernick's upside as a still-developing passer and devastating open-field runner.
Reaction and opinions weren't hard to find once word of Kaepernick's extension surfaced. A lot of responses focused on how this lucrative contract will impact the other QBs who are due extensions soon enough. Schefter covered many of them, while NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah highlighted one of San Francisco's NFC West rivals:
Russell Wilson is smiling right now.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) June 4, 2014
Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer made note of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, while Sporting News' Kami Mattoli pointed out another QB who could soon also cash in as a result of Kaepernick's new deal:
Dalton obviously will not receive near Kaepernick money. But one huge deal at top affects all. Good day for AD/all QBs.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) June 4, 2014
Cam Newton approves of Kaepernick's deal. pic.twitter.com/s4egbzmVit— Kami Mattioli (@kmattio) June 4, 2014
One interesting angle was brought forth by CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, who referenced Kaepernick's Niners predecessor, Alex Smith, as a comparison. Smith, also coming up on the end of his current deal with Kansas City, had a much lower market value in San Francisco:
So the 49ers valued Alex Smith at $7.5M/ yr and Kaepernick at $21M per year. So um, yeah, that's settled. Russell Wilson's next up in 2015— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) June 4, 2014
But among those impending, presumed deals, only Kaepernick and Chicago Bears gunslinger Jay Cutler have put pen to paper, as Field Yates of ESPN observes:
So now there are 2 NFL QB's under contract through 2020: Colin Kaepernick and Jay Cutler.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) June 4, 2014
SportsCenter's official Twitter account alluded to the unprecedented guaranteed money Kaepernick is set to receive:
Colin Kaepernick will reportedly make the most guaranteed money in NFL history ($61 million). Here's who he'll pass » pic.twitter.com/TKZVngTvZZ— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 4, 2014
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman spoke to two executives who provided starkly contrasting commentary. For better or worse, Freeman ultimately feels the Niners played to the league-wide status quo in locking Kaepernick up long term:
1st team exec on Kaepernick signing: "Idiotic move by the 49ers." 2nd team exec: "Shows why 49ers are one of best organizations."— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) June 4, 2014
The 49ers did what every team I've ever been around has done: overpay for a young QB star.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) June 4, 2014
ESPN's Andrew Brandt and Aaron Nagler of Bleacher Report made cross-sports analogies, both referring in some way to the massive paydays baseball's biggest stars rake in:
Again, total value of NFL contracts much less relevant than in NBA or MLB. $120M means "We'll pay about $60M, and then we'll see."— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) June 4, 2014
You think to yourself "That's a lot of money for Kap"...and then you think about baseball contracts.— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) June 4, 2014
Count CBS Sports' Pete Prisco as a staunch opponent of Kaepernick being paid so much money, based on his prowess—or lack thereof—as a passer:
Really, San Francisco. Really?— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) June 4, 2014
32 starts and not even close to 200-yard passing average warrants that deal?— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) June 4, 2014
What's your reaction to Colin Kaepernick's extension?
Whether this deal pans out remains to be seen. Given Kaepernick's elusiveness as a ball-carrier and the cannon he has for an arm, there's reason to be hopeful. Coach Jim Harbaugh is a former NFL quarterback and stuck with Kaepernick after benching Smith in one of the boldest moves in recent NFL memory. It's paid big dividends thus far, and it appears Kaepernick is only beginning to scratch the surface of his potential.
On the other hand, the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks occupy the Niners' division, along with an improving St. Louis Rams team and the Arizona Cardinals, fresh off a 10-win campaign in 2013. The road back to the NFC Championship Game, which San Francisco has fought to in each of the past three years, will be as difficult as ever.
Now that Kaepernick has all this money coming in, he's being counted on to continually deliver for the Niners—and ultimately bring them a Super Bowl. For a franchise that's enjoyed the likes of Joe Montana and Steve Young in the past, he is facing the very best competition in the NFC West and the gaudiest of expectations to ascend to true elite status.
Kaepernick has a strong defense to lean on, along with a power running game and an improving supporting cast to succeed moving forward. It's on him to justify his contract and lead the Niners on a path that ends with them hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.