Should the 49ers give Colin Kaepernick big money?

Mar 7, 2014 at 10:38 AM

Colin Kaepernick is looking to get paid. Over the last few days, there have been reports that the 49ers quarterback is seeking a deal that would average $18-$20 million per season. A deal of that size would put Kaepernick among the top paid quarterbacks. The reports also state that 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 who played at least 25 percent of his teams' snaps and threw the fewest passes of any quarterback in the league worth a contract with an average of $18-$20 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, the expectation was that Kaepernick could take the 49ers to a championship. 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 2011 and 2012. For those numbers, the 49ers gave Smith a three year deal averaging less than $8.5 million per year.

Many of Kaepernick's supporters will point to his four road wins in the postseason during his first two seasons as the starter. That is impressive until you realize that Mark Sanchez also had 4 road wins in the postseason over the same period, including a win against New England in which he threw three touchdown passes.

If Kaepernick is willing to play out this season on his rookie deal, a cap hit of roughly $1.6 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 to 2012, the Ravens found themselves in a similar situation, and they ended up having Flacco play out his deal. He led 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 and being structured in a way that would not require gutting the roster.

Put yourself in the office of Trent Baalke or Paraag Marathe. What would you do? Is Kaepernick worth more than $18-20 million per year? I don't think so. At least not yet.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • montv
    The overpaying of QBs in the NFL is a huge problem. The 49ers are in a world of hurt if they don't come up with a potential starter at QB in the upcoming draft. Blaine Gabbert is not the answer, and I can't even remember the name of that third-string guy. If Kaepernick leaves for the free-agent market, even if the Niners fall short of the Super Bowl again, some team will pay him big money; you can just about guarantee it. His physical skills are awesome, no doubt; but he's not a championship QB. His assertion that he would take Crabtree one-on-one with any corner says it all. Can you picture Joe Montana or Steve Young insisting that it was the right decision when it led to a game-sealing interception? I like the guy, but I am really hoping San Francisco drafts a viable starting QB in this draft.
    Mar 11, 2014 at 3:55 PM
  • Zach Amin
    NO. Period. He is not not worth more then 4-5 Million dollars per player. If he doesn't accept lower salary. release him. Michael Vick is a 3 year solution if he leaves. The 49ers should draft a QB in second or third round.
    Mar 10, 2014 at 7:06 PM
  • AJ Dembroski
    I firmly believe there isn't a player in the league... not Kaepernick, not Brady, not Manning... worth 15% of a cap that has to be divided 53 ways. It's ridiculous. It worked for the Broncos this last year because they already had talent in place. $18-20m could retain 3 of the 4 starters at linebacker. I'm sorry, ANY combination of 3 of our starting linebackers is more valuable than Kaepernick is. I'd venture to say that Iupati might be more valuable than Kaepernick. Kaepernick isn't the primarily responsible party for two NFC Championship appearances. If that were the case, they wouldn't have gotten there against the Giants. This team can win playoff games with a care-taker quarterback in the Trent Dilfer mold. Kaep wants 18-20? He can go bury some other team's future.
    Mar 10, 2014 at 3:21 PM
    Response: Yep
  • frank
    Do you really want to compare mark Sanchez with kaepernick ?? Really ? As good as the Niners defense is kaepernick had come from behind to beat ATL in NFCC to win ,had to come from behind in the SB to come within 5 yards and 5 bad play calls in opinion from winning the SB. Kaepernick is a far better QB than Sanchez will ever be.
    Mar 8, 2014 at 6:02 PM
    Response: Kaepernick threw seven passes in the 2nd half against Atlanta in that game, and once on the go ahead drive. Sanchez was a better passer than Kaepernick in his six postseason games.
  • russsalmon
    Good QB's are commanding such a large % of the cap that teams have to be broken up to pay the QB (see ravens & saints). Its a problem for Niners now but something the NFL will have to address if teams are to have QB's like Manning, Brady, Brees etc.
    Mar 8, 2014 at 10:50 AM
  • Frank
    Kap will get top money sooner or later...I can't think of any QB's who in their first 2 seasons as starter took their team to the SB and within an eyelash of another. Does he have room for improvement, sure he does. That said, I don't think he's even scratched the surface and what he could become. He's got absolutely mad physical skills and staying under Harbaugh would be the best thing he could do. I think it's a good show of faith by starting the negotiations now...but even if they don't reach an agreement, there's plenty of time to do so.
    Mar 8, 2014 at 8:18 AM
    Response: Mark Sanchez had the same playoff record through his first 2 seasons. Like Kaepernick, he had the benefit of a tremendous defense behind him. When that defense went away so did the wins. I think the same thing will happen with the 49ers. Probably as early as 2015.
  • T
    He is what the franchise tag was made for. Let him play his deal out and see if he gets better.
    Mar 7, 2014 at 10:58 PM
  • russsalmon
    Hello, at least in my opinion the NFL and right now the 49ers are developing a league wide probem. The QB's salary has outgrown the salary cap and threatens to disarm really good teams (see saints and ravens), Unless the NFL tackles this issue every team witha an elite QB will falter as pay their Qb's who watch whats left of the team suck. You can't pay 18-20 mil and have enough left for the rest
    Mar 7, 2014 at 9:41 PM
  • frank
    Is kaepernick worth 18 million ? Was Jay Cutler worth the deal he received ? No .. Was Tony Romo worth the deal that he received ? No .. But these are the parameters that were set by 2 QBs that had zero success in the playoffs. Mark Sanchez has 4 playoff victories but his ceiling was evident from the start. It took kaepernick 1 1/2 seasons to put up the same numbers as Alex Smith who had 8 seasons in the league. Kaepernick ceiling is by far one of or if not the highest in the league. Is kaepernick worth the 18-20 million in my opinion most definitely. It's up harbaugh and co. to bring out the best in kaepernick. Could you imagine if he were to hit the open market, How many QB needy teams wouldn't give him 20 million???
    Mar 7, 2014 at 8:20 PM
    Response: It's there problem if they want to make a bad investment.
  • Marty
    To many rumors, not sure the money. If it were me, 49ers should wait one more year. This could be the year Harbaugh either gets his ring or next off season could see a major overhaul. We can see is there is any improvement in Kaepernick QBing skills. Hardly worth that much money. Harbaugh is going into his fourth season. He has falling short the first three. His coaching staff is still in tact (strange for the NFL). Other than Kaepernick & Boldin the offense is about the same. I don't see Harbaugh changing his mentality of beat ing your brains in. I expect next season to be the same. Another disappointment. If that happens, 49ers will not have any money tied in Kaepernick. Than Baalke can start from scratch again with another coaching staff & QB.
    Mar 7, 2014 at 2:34 PM
  • Matt
    I agree, however, I think the front office needs to be diplomatic about it. These kind of negotiations typically take a long time anyway, so I think the 49ers just need to stretch them out until next year. Kap needs to know he is being given serious consideration and respect with regards to his deal. If they just say, "sorry, dude! Maybe next year!" that would not be good and might push him to hold out. I think Baalke and Maranthe will handle it correctly.
    Mar 7, 2014 at 1:33 PM
    Response: Agree with you on stretching things out.
  • Matt ONe
    We've all read both sides of the argument. The stats can be biased, depending how you slice and dice them. At this point, my gut feeling is to get a deal done early. Besides the financial implications, an early deal would also solidify the organization's focus - sets the tone. Then the team can work on other key pieces (Harbaugh, Aldon, Ilupati, Crabtree).
    Mar 7, 2014 at 1:32 PM
  • Andrew Hutchinson
    Are you trying to say that Kap is the 34th best Quarterback in the NFL? Way to Cherry-Pick a stat. Kap was 7th in QBR (a stat that gives him credit for his running ability) and has more upside than any QB in the league. He didn't run a pro style offense in college and is still learning and improving. Pay him now and lock in a deal. He is way better than any of those 18 million dollar QBs.
    Mar 7, 2014 at 1:16 PM
    Response: No. He's better than that. We all know he can run. From a cap perspective it is better for the team to finish the deal next season.

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