What Does Colin Kaepernick's Contract Extension Mean for Nick Foles?

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What Does Colin Kaepernick's Contract Extension Mean for Nick Foles?
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

In lieu of Colin Kaepernick’s new contract extension, it’s not too early to think about what kind of a deal Nick Foles may push for if he has another terrific season in 2014.

Kaepernick inked a six-year, $126 million deal with a reported $61 million in guaranteed money. That could conceivably keep him in San Francisco through the 2020 season. This was after just 23 regular-season starts and only one full campaign under his belt.

That bodes extremely well for Foles, a young quarterback in a tremendous situation in Philadelphia. A third-round pick in 2012, Foles developed into a Pro Bowl player by 2013, running Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense with ease. Foles tossed a ridiculous 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions, finishing with a 119.2 passer rating, which ranks as the third-best single-season mark in league history.

Foles signed a four-year deal as a rookie, which means he will be eligible for a new extension following 2014. Obviously, he will need to prove he’s worth the $15-20 million per year that is generally accepted for the elite class of quarterbacks. This season will be a telling one, as Foles will be without three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

There’s a lot to like about the future of Foles in Philly. While he isn’t the traditional running quarterback one might have expected from a Kelly signal-caller, there is no mistaking Foles’ efficiency in guiding the offense. He rarely made mistakes in year one, at one point winning seven of eight contests.

Expecting Foles to repeat his ’13 numbers is obviously impractical. It will likely come down to how far Foles can take the team in the postseason. While he won the division in 2013 and even played very well in the playoffs (two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 105.0 passer rating), he didn’t come away with a postseason victory.

That will be huge in terms of next offseason’s contract negotiations. Foles winning a playoff game or two and advancing at least to the NFC Championship Game will go a long way in securing him more guaranteed money. After all, Kaepernick has been to an NFC Championship Game and a Super Bowl in just two seasons at the helm.

Currently, there are 14 NFL quarterbacks earning at least $10 million per year in average base salary. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson are all in line for contracts in the range of $18-22 million per season. That means 18 QBs are earning what could be considered top-notch money; Foles could be the 19th.

It’s clearly a quarterback-driven league, and teams have to be willing to pay for a quality quarterback. The key is disguising the contract so that it allows for an easy escape should the quarterback falter.

Kaepernick’s new deal is incredibly deceiving on the outside; that $126 million is a farce if there ever was one. Even the $61 million in guaranteed cash is really only $13 million in fully guaranteed money, as broken down by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

Kaepernick isn’t the first quarterback to get a deal that looks much bigger than it really is. Jay Cutler’s seven-year, $126 million deal from earlier this offseason is pretty much a two- or three-year deal. The Chicago Bears can release Cutler after 2015 without taking an enormous cap hit, and there’s no hit at all if he’s released any time after ’16.

Expect Foles to get a similar deal. It’s nothing against Foles. He played remarkably well last season. He’s just 25 years old and he’s entering his prime.

Consider, though, that Michael Vick was also putting up career-best numbers in that offense.

Vick’s 7.15 adjusted net yards per passing attempt was the highest mark of his career, and his 8.5 yards per carry average as a runner was his highest since his rookie campaign. Quite simply, there’s something about playing in Kelly’s offense that elevates the numbers of not only quarterbacks, but all players (think Jackson or Riley Cooper).

That will certainly be greatly discussed in contract negotiations with Foles and his agent. Foles’ leverage will be his uncanny ability to not throw interceptions, his win-loss record and his ability to (hopefully) come through in January games, when it really matters.

Earlier this offseason, NJ.com’s Eliot Shorr-Parks took a look at the potential deal Foles could get. A five-year, $85 million contract with $38 million guaranteed would likely ensure Foles is on the roster for the first two seasons, with the team then having the ability to part ways at impending cap hits.

That’s not unreasonable, although Eagles general manager Howie Roseman is a master of the salary cap. He will undoubtedly find a way to pay Foles a lot of money but still allow plenty of wiggle room (as the 49ers did with Kaepernick). Conceivably, Roseman could even let Foles play out the ’15 season before extending him.

The Baltimore Ravens tried that tactic with Joe Flacco, and it worked to the tune of a Super Bowl victory (although now the franchise is stuck with arguably the worst contract in sports).

If Foles can play at a Pro Bowl level in ’14, look for him to exceed the $100 million mark in total base salary. A six-year deal worth around $120 million is reasonable, but similarly constructed in that the Eagles can escape the contract pretty soon without much penalty.

That’s similar to what Kaepernick got, and while Foles doesn’t have Kaepernick’s rocket arm, legs or playoff success, Kaepernick doesn’t have Foles’ video game passing numbers. And it is a passing league, after all.

Projected Contract: Six Years, $109 million, $28 million guaranteed

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