Shak’s Take: 49ers and Colin Kaepernick’s Contract

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick signed a four-year, $5.12 million dollar contract his rookie season. His current deal contains $3.8 million guaranteed, including a $2.26 million signing bonus. In 2013, Kaepernick will be earning $740,844, while coming off of an NFC Championship victory and Super Bowl appearance.

For next season, in 2014, he will be earning $973,766 to be followed by 2015 where he becomes an unrestricted Free Agent. These numbers are very favorable for the 49ers and we all know that San Francisco does not pay top dollar to high profile players. This will have to change.

It should also be noted that Kaepernick has a $100,000 workout bonus, which may make some of you feel a bit better — maybe not.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan signed an average deal worth $20.75 million which is second to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘ $22 million average. Not to mention, Ryan’s $63 million in the first three years is the highest among quarterbacks in the NFL. Kaepernick is not on Rodgers’ level, just yet, but the Falcons lost the NFC Championship game to the 49ers last season. Moreover, Falcons quarterback Ryan does not have a great playoff record in his respective career.

Yes, all this will impact Kaepernick’s future contract.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, Kaepernick has no leverage until this season ends. It is no secret that he will demand an extension at the conclusion of this year. But how much will the 49ers be willing to pay?

That is the million dollar question.

The sky is the limit for this kid and if he improves on his 2012 campaign, then do not be surprised to see Kaepernick amongst the highest paid in the NFL. Some are thinking the extension should be similar to what Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford signed, 3 years for $53 million, but that may not be enough. Especially, if Kaepernick takes San Francisco deep into the playoffs and/or wins the Super Bowl.

According to Sports Illustrated, the highest paid quarterbacks (average salaries) for 2013 are as follows (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/photos/1303/ten-highest-paid-nfl-players/1/):

1)    Aaron Rodgers $22 million

2)    Matt Ryan $20.75 million

3)    Joe Flacco $20.1 million

4)    Drew Brees $20 million

5)    Peyton Manning $19.2 million

6)    Tony Romo $18 million

7)    Eli Manning $15.2 million

8)    Tom Brady $14.1 million

Six out of the top eight quarterbacks have Super Bowl victories. Yes, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is among the top paid – that is not a misprint. Romo and Ryan do not have a Super Bowl ring or appearance to their credit. That automatically puts Kaepernick to be in the top three, regardless of what his actual worth may be.

By trading quarterback Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs, the 49ers appear to be committed to Kaepernick. They are building a strong team around the young talented quarterback and are positioning themselves to make Kaepernick a respectable offer. But will a respectable offer be enough?

Probably not.

Today, in most professional sports, teams pay the athlete on potential (JaMarcus Russell, Vince Young, Albert Haynesworth, etc…). With quarterbacks such as Ryan and Romo already peaking in their careers, since the two cannot possibly get any better than what they currently are, Kaepernick has the upper hand. He is faster and by far more athletic than the two.

Which translates into more potential.

A respectable offer will not suffice. The 49ers will have to pay Kaepernick top dollar in order to keep him happy and in San Francisco. The only way a “respectable offer” will be accepted is if Kaepernick has a subpar season (a respectable offer entailing 3 years around $50 million). But do not bank on that.

Let’s not forget, Kaepernick is a fierce competitor. His burning desire to win is infectious and the Super Bowl loss is giving him nightmares. Expect Kaepernick to have an MVP type season.

Therefore, the contract extension should be in the 5 years $100 million range (around $20 million per year). This would put Kaepernick within the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL. Again, this is all speculation and it depends on how the young rising star performs this upcoming season.

Only time will tell.

Guess who Las Vegas has getting to the Super Bowl? Last I checked, Vegas usually has the upper hand in probabilities. Therefore, expect a big pay day for Colin Kaepernick.

Shakeel Khan is a San Francisco 49ers writer for Pro Football Central

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