How Much Should The San Francisco 49ers Pay QB Colin Kaepernick?
As I discussed in my previous article, Colin Kaepernick made his way around Media Row on Thursday to do some promotional work as a pitchman. What stood out for 49ers fans was Kaepernick commenting about how he wanted a ling term deal but understood that it had to be a balanced one in order to allow the San Francisco 49ers to be able to sign and retain key free agents as the team looks to maximize the talent on the roster while giving him a significant pay increase.
Keeping that in mind, what would be a fair and balanced deal for Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke to offer Kaepernick that he would agree to sign? For starters, we can safely say that Kaepernick will not be asking for a contract like those that have been given to Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco who signed deals which are in the range of $19-20 million over a 5-6 years.
If that pay range is one we can safely eliminate from speculation now the attention turns to looking at any recent deals signed by other quarterbacks around the NFL which Kaepernick and his representatives might use as a barometer for what they are expecting to get from the 49ers. The most recent big money deal signed by a quarterback was the one signed by Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler who signed a seven-year, $126 million deal.
If Kaepernick is looking for such a deal then this would go against the statements he made Thursday about a balanced contract. Such a deal would mean the 49ers would be unable to sign several key unrestricted free agents like Anquan Boldin. Assuming this is the figure Kaepernick and his representatives want there will be very little negotiating during this offseason between Kaepernick and the 49ers.
If no deal is reached between the 49ers and Kaepernick, the team still holds the stronger hand given that they can wait as Kaepernick still has to play the 2014 season under the $1-1.5 million he is scheduled to make. If Kaepernick were to have a stellar 2014 season then he would gain some of the negotiating leverage but not all of it. As San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami pointed out in a Thursday column, the 49ers can still retain and hold onto Kaepernick until the end of the 2017 season.
Before the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the 49ers can place the franchise tag on Kaepernick. And going by what the franchise tag salary was this past season and what it could be this time next year, one must assume it would be around $16-17.5 million. Even after the 2016 season, the 49ers could once again keep Kaepernick for the 2017 season given a special provision in the collective bargaining agreement which applies to quarterbacks. But like any franchise tag situation, it becomes a game of Russian roulette which is one that does not always end well.
Taking all this into account, like Tim Kawakami suggested in his article, offering Kaepernick a three-year, $45 million or a four-year, $61-62 million deal would be one which would be fair to Kaepernick as it would make him around the 12th or 13th average salaried quarterback and compensate him fairly. Additionally it would allow Kaepernick a chance in a few years time to sign a bigger money deal if he progresses and becomes one of the league’s best quarterbacks, and in the short term he would help the 49ers keep key players for playoff runs in the next few years.