NFL: Kaepernick Signs Historic Deal, Can the 49ers Afford It?


After a long bout of negotiation, the San Francisco 49ers recently reached a very friendly deal with burgeoning star quarterback Colin Kaepernick, handing him a six-year contract extension that could be worth as much as $126 million, with a guaranteed $61 million.

The deal ranks as the highest in NFL history — the closest quarterback deals to that were Tony Romo’s, which guaranteed him $50 million and Joe Flacco’s, which made sure he’d get $55. Since taking over the starting QB gig in 2012, the 26-year-old has been the face of a resurgent San Francisco franchise. But could such a lucrative deal come back to haunt the club? Highly unlikely, says Sports Illustrated’s Doug Farrar

“The $61 million guaranteed is a series of rolling bonuses,” Farrar said. “It’s got roster bonuses — ‘If you’re on the roster this year, you get 10 more million, here you get ten more million, here you get ten more million.’ This is common in NFL contracts; it’s funny money.” While Farrar says that the contract language protects the 49ers if Kaepernick gets hurt, or otherwise sidelined, but that’s actually not the big picture for Kaep, at least as far as injuries go.

“For 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and part of 2018, the base salaries are guaranteed only for injury,” Mike Florio wrote on Pro Football Talk. “On April 1 of each year, the guarantees convert from injury only to fully guaranteed.  That gives the 49ers the ability to decide, in any given year, to move on from Kaepernick.”

So not only is a large portion of the quarterback’s contract built into rolling bonuses — his deal can be subject to termination at any time if the team decides that they’re not happy with his play. For a quarterback that has so much potential but so much to prove, it feels like a win-win deal for both sides. Also, suffice it to say the way his contract is structured will give San Francisco a lot of room to pay out the rest of their core, as well as bring in some help.