Contracts in the National Football League are a strange business. What can appear as a $100 million extension can in all actuality be a one- or two-year deal that allows the organization an easy opt-out.
Just look at Colin Kaepernick’s most recent deal. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback signed what looked like a six-year, $126 million contract with $61 million guaranteed. Per Overthecap.com, though, the contract really allows the Niners to move on from Kaepernick as soon as next offseason; releasing him then would actually save the team $8 million from his projected $17 million cap hit for 2015.
Obviously, it’s highly unlikely that the team releases him in the near future, but what this does is show a scary breakdown of how little long-term security is actually awarded to NFL players. Kaepernick’s contract would rate as one of the more team-friendly deals out there, as the 49ers can basically move on anytime soon, should they so choose.
The following players do not have similar deals to Kaepernick. These football players are locked on for several more seasons—most of them at an average annual value that exceeds an expected rate for their performance. Some of them are still productive players, but due to the NFL’s limitations on the salary cap, they’re earning a cap hit that limits what else the organization can do.