Yesterday, Colin Kaepernick agreed to a six-year, $126-million contract extension that included an NFL record $61 million guaranteed. Now, there are plenty of clauses in the deal that make it difficult for the 49ers quarterback to earn the entire amount. But one thing was made perfectly clear when he inked the deal: Kaepernick is an elite quarterback in the NFL.
A team doesn’t make someone the second-highest paid signal caller in the league if he’s not in that category. They don’t give him more money than Super Bowl winners like Joe Flacco, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. The $126 million speaks volumes.
Kaepernick is in that class because the 49ers know what they have in him; and they know how hard it would be to replace him. In a league where having a star quarterback is by far the most-important ingredient to building a winner, holding onto one when you have one is crucial.
It also suggests that a lot of teams have to be kicking themselves, as they watch Kaepernick develop into a star. During the 2011 NFL Draft, nearly every team in the league passed on the Nevada quarterback; as a result, he fell to the second round, going 36th overall. That means the teams that are currently starved for a quarterback could have had one; they whiffed on their chance to land Kaepernick at least once.
But not every team missed as bad as some. For a few franchises, the error was simply egregious.
With that in mind, here are the 10 teams that never should have passed on Colin Kaepernick:
10. Minnesota Vikings
With the 12th overall pick in 2011, the Vikings reached for a quarterback, taking Christian Ponder out of Florida State. That has turned out to be the disaster many people predicted, as Minnesota has been looking for Ponder’s replacement seemingly ever since. For now, they’ve moved on to Teddy Bridgewater as the quarterback of the future. Time will tell if they finally found an answer.
9. Houston Texans
The Texans only had one selection before Kaepernick was taken, and they drafted J.J. Watt at No. 11. So it’s hard to fault them on that pick. But they also thought Matt Schaub was the long-term answer at quarterback, so they weren’t even looking in that direction. Now that they are stuck with T.J. Yates, Case Keenum and whoever else might take snaps this season in Houston, that seems like a major miscalculation.