Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reported today that 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is looking for a contract that is similar or better than the recent deals signed by Jay Cutler ($18.1 million average, $38 million guaranteed) and Tony Romo ($18 million average, $40 million guaranteed). According to the report Kaepernick is willing to play out the final year of his rookie contract and pick up the negotiations next offseason if the 49ers don’t meet his desired range.
Is a quarterback with only 29 starts in the NFL, who finished the 2013 season with the 34th best completion percentage among quarterbacks and who played at least 25 percent of his teams’ snaps worth a contract worth an average of $18 million per season?
In my opinion the answer is no.
When Jim Harbaugh made the switch from Alex Smith to Kaepernick in the middle of the 2012 season he said that the old quarterback wins games, but Kaepernick wins Super Bowls. How has that worked out for the 49ers?
So far Kaepernick has put up numbers that are very similar to those put up by Smith in 2012 and 2013. For those numbers the 49ers gave Smith a three year deal averaging less than $8.5 million per year.
If Kaepernick is willing to play out this season on his rookie deal, a cap hit of roughly $1.63 million for 2014, I would roll the dice and make him do it. Kaepernick right now holds the leverage in negotiations, and if it should give him more leverage by winning the Super Bowl so be it. At that point I’ve received exactly what I want.
I would have no problem giving him a Joe Flacco type deal in 2015, if he earns it. Let me explain.
In the offseason prior 2012 the Ravens found themselves in a similar situation, and they ended up having Flacco play out his deal. He ended up leading the Ravens to the Championship and earned MVP honors. As a result the Ravens gave Flacco a deal that averages $20.1 million per season.
What many don’t realize is that in 2013 Flacco only counted $6.8 million against the Ravens cap number, with cap numbers of $14.8 million in 2014 and $14.55 million in 2015. That’s a three year average of only $12.05 million. It is very likely that the Ravens will restructure Flacco’s deal before the cap hit becomes prohibitive.
Of course in 2015 Kaepernick’s contract would be slightly higher, however with the salary cap expected to increase rather quickly over the next few years it is certainly within the realm of possibility that the 49ers can work a deal that would give Kaepernick the same percentage of the cap as Flacco’s deal without gutting the roster.
Put yourself in the office of Trent Baalke or Paraag Marathe. What would you do? Is Kaepernick worth more than $18 million per year? I’m not so sure. At least not yet.
Follow Jack Hammer on Twitter: @NinerChatter