Perhaps no other NFL team has had as much offseason attention as the San Francisco 49ers, and yet another story developed when Colin Kaepernick inked a deal to remain the team’s starting quarterback—but there’s a catch.
According to CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco, Kaepernick’s contract is only worth about $13 million in guaranteed money, but it could award him up to $115 million based on his performance.
Though Kaepernick admitted to requesting a more modest salary than most expected, it could possibly end up hurting the team in the long run.
Some think that Kaepernick taking such a small deal in comparison to other franchise quarterbacks—such as Joe Flacco’s $20 million annual salary, which was inked last year—might drive some of the other stars on the squad off the roster.
According to CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco, the deal could push veteran players, such as Mike Iupati and Michael Crabtree, out the door, as they would more than likely want more guaranteed money than Kaepernick ended up signing for:
Many would argue that the quarterback’s role is the most important on the team, as opposed to a guard or receiver, which are the two players’ respective positions.
Negotiations between the 49ers and Iupati and Crabtree haven’t begun yet, so at this point, it’s hard to say whether Kaepernick’s contract will affect their offers or not, but many have lauded him for taking a smaller deal to allow salary-cap room for other key players.
ESPN’s Jeffri Chadiha believes that the deal will protect the 49ers from overpaying a still unproven quarterback absurd amounts of money, but it still allows Kaepernick an opportunity to earn every penny of his contract.
An interesting tweet from former NFL scout John Middlekauff pretty much sums up the wise decision-making on the part of the 49ers:
1 top agent on Kap: "any time you can essentially pay as you go for your franchise QB it's a pretty big win for the club"— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) June 5, 2014
We may start to see similar contracts popping up for young players who have yet to prove themselves, though, there is at least one signal-caller who does not want to join Kaepernick in the pay-for-performance club.
Per ESPN.com's David Newton, Cam Newton says he’s not "terrified" by Colin Kaepernick's smaller contract. However, Newton believes that his representatives will seek much a larger guaranteed salary for the Carolina Panthers star, regardless of the trend Kaepernick may have started by signing a smaller deal:
Cam Newton says he's not "terrified'' about Colin Kaepernick contract. #Panthers— David Newton (@DNewtonespn) June 11, 2014
The 49ers were smart to sign Kaepernick as their franchise quarterback, as he's shown flashes of brilliance and has already taken the team to the Super Bowl. They were also smart in signing him to a performance-based contract that will only pay out in full if he continues to win games and improve upon his first full season as a starter in the NFL.
With the 31st-ranked completion percentage of all NFL quarterbacks in 2013 (37 in total), the team will need to see improvement from him if he wants to earn his money and stay on the team.
With a lot riding on the upcoming season, we know at least one person is betting on Kap, and he’s celebrating with a pool party.