Let’s be honest with ourselves for a second. When we first saw the amount of money Colin Kaepernick was receiving in his contract extension, all of our jaws hit the floor and we all immediately pondered what we could do with that kind of money. I mean, $61 million guaranteed in a $126 million dollar contract that could potentially keep the young quarterback in the Bay Area until 2020 had to have come as a shock seeing as Kap has only played in 29 games as the starter on the San Francisco 49ers. I’m here to explain to you why this deal is not as crazy as it seems, and how Colin Kaepernick is more interested in the success of his team than most people would like to think.
First, let me just begin by spitting some cold hard facts for you all as to why this man deserved to get paid. Since usurping Alex Smith from the starting position in the middle of the 2012 season, Colin Kaepernick has compiled a 21-8 record that includes four playoff wins, which is four times as many playoff wins as both Matt Ryan and Tony Romo, who both recently received similar deals to Kaepernick. In those 29 games started, Kap took his team to two NFC Championships and was one missed throw and controversial call away from a Super Bowl win. For the first half of the 2013 season, Kap had almost no help after his starting receiver, Michael Crabtree, went down with injury. Yet he was able to keep his team in the playoff hunt until all his weapons returned from injury.
There has been a lot of unfair prejudice towards Kaepernick ever since he has become a starter. It all began with the QB being judged because he had tattoos, which in some people’s eyes, “didn’t fit the image of a good quarterback” (they are religious tattoos, by the way). Then, because he didn’t always dress up for his press conferences and did not wear his hat straight, he was labeled as disrespectful and not representing his team well. And now I have seen Kaepernick criticized for this contract calling him greedy and overpaid. It’s time to get some facts straight.
I won’t explain why the first two scenarios of why Kaepernick was getting disrespected were preposterous, as I’m pretty confident that we can all see the ridiculousness of judging the young man off of what he likes to wear just because he is not like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. But I will address his contract. First off, the $61 million guaranteed is mistaken by a lot of people as what he is getting right off the bat. This is not the case, as Kap only received $13.073 million immediately after signing his contract (wow, not very often do you put “only” before that insane amount of money).
With all of that being said, this contract is not rewarding Kaepernick for what he has done. This contract is paying him for the potential that the organization sees in Kap and they are paying him handsomely due to their faith they have in him to lead them to their sixth championship. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to that contract.
As I stated before, the contract runs through the year 2020, and each year he will make between $12 million and $21 million, but with a catch. Through the years 2015-2020, the guaranteed money Kap could make will decrease by $2 million each year (which seems like pocket change to him at this point) if he does not: 1. Play 80% of the offensive snaps each year and 2. Either get his team to the Super Bowl, or make either the first or second All-Pro team.
Now obviously getting to the Super Bowl is a tough challenge for any team, and as long as Brady, Manning and Rodgers are playing, making the first or even second team All-Pro is a herculean challenge for any quarterback. Kap was well aware of what he was getting himself into, and this just goes to show how dedicated he will be to fighting for his team’s success and not falling out of the league after grabbing a monster contract. The 49ers QB has already developed a reputation as one of the hardest working players in the league during the offseason, and his head coach has already predicted a breakout year this year for his young signal caller.
Now, some of you are probably asking, “Hugh, how does this dispute everyone’s premonition of him being a cocky teenager who is in it for the money?” And that is a question I would be more than happy to answer.
This offseason, tight end Vernon Davis and right guard Alex Boone have both been absent from the 49ers organized team workouts, letting the organization know they are looking for new deals. Countless other player’s contracts will run out after this upcoming season, so 49ers General Manager, Trent Baalke, is going to have some tough decisions on who to sign and who to let walk a year from now. Here is where good-guy Kaepernick comes into play.
More worried about his team’s success than how many zeros he sees in his bank account, Kap’s contract allows more flexibility for the organization to sign more players to deals. Unlike other quarterbacks who recently received big contracts (looking at you, Joe Flacco), Kap does not want to lose all of his play makers for his own wealth. By taking a low signing bonus, Kap only scratches the salary cap, as his cap stands at only $2.795 million. This leaves roughly $5 million in cap space for the 49ers to use on other players.
The fact that Kap is willing to: 1. Not take more money now, but rather create incentives for him to improve down the road to earn more money and 2. Take less money in order to maintain some more salary cap space in order to give the 49ers the ability to resign other players, is important. After the Ravens defeated Kaepernick and the 49ers in the Super Bowl, they gave their quarterback Joe Flacco a monster $100 million+ deal. The problem with this was that is resulted in the Ravens losing multiple future Hall of Famers and maybe the reason Flacco even won the Super Bowl in Anquan Boldin, whom 49er fans have now fallen in love with after acquiring him via trade.
The bottom line of this rant is not just explaining Colin’s contract and why it is deserved, but also that this kid does not deserve the kind of criticism that he is given. I am not talking about his work when he has the pads on, but off the field. He does not dress like your stereotypical quarterback or and he ikes to represent his religious tattoos that have special significance to him, but that does not mean he should be under scrutiny and labeled a “bad influence.” I hope that in this day and age, we don’t look to immediately judge someone if they are different than what we are used to seeing, but rather, as one great American said, “Judge him by the content of his character.”
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