Kaepernick extension could end up a bargain

If you think Colin Kaepernick has been offered too much money, you haven’t been paying enough attention to the NFL.

The reported numbers, which vary from source to source, come as high as $126 million over six years. That’s an average of $21 million per season while Kaepernick is in his prime.

There could be $26 million in bonus cash, as most big-money deals often include incentives. Take Vernon Davis’s deal, for example, where he’d have earned $200,000 just by showing up to organized team activities.

Which he didn’t.

So lets look at what we do know:

The deal keeps Kaepernick under 49ers control until he’s 33, and out of his athletic prime.

There have been reports that Kaepernick’s deal includes a pay cut for the current season, while Davis and offensive guard Alex Boone are threatening a holdout. This adds to the possibility that the two are kept happy and come to mandatory training camp.

The salary cap rose nearly $10 million last season, and some project that the limits could exceed $150 million by 2016. If the trend continued, the salary cap could go beyond $180 million when Kaepernick’s deal expires.

Of the ten highest paid quarterbacks in the league, the average salary per OverTheCap.com is $18.7 million. Only one, Detroit’s Matt Stafford, will be under 30 by the time the 2015 season begins.

So that’s what we know, and really, all of it.

Details regarding the contract will come out soon enough. We’ll begin to learn more in the coming days, but the debate will continue as to whether Kaepernick belongs in the same fiscal category as Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

What separates them, beyond statistics that aren’t weighted, is age. The yardage totals don’t matter. The reason they don’t matter, is because of the competition.

Peyton Manning plays in a division that isn’t known for defense, as does Brees. And while the Denver Broncos did all they can to create the most potent offense the league has ever seen, one team who Kaepernick plays twice a year, absolutely destroyed them.

Better yet, Kaepernick almost beat Seattle on their home turf just two weeks prior to the Super Bowl. And after Seattle systematically dismantled the Denver offense, outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman told the press that the 49ers were the NFL’s second best team — not the Broncos.

So while the 49ers lost the NFC Championship game in 2013, and the Super Bowl in 2012, Sherman might agree more than anyone with Kaepernick’s deal. Maybe.

But while the Broncos spent much more on offense than defense, it wasn’t much to watch. And Seattle had won it all by the time Bruno Mars made young ladies swoon at midfield and smoke filled the halftime show.

Surely Phillip Rivers wouldn’t have gotten it done. We know this because Denver swallowed the Chargers whole in the divisional round of the 2013 playoffs.

Matt Ryan, while losing his top target in Julio Jones, couldn’t do any better than the Oakland Raiders, finishing the season at 4-12.

And Drew Brees, despite leading his team to a minor victory over the 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, couldn’t do better than the 49ers last season.

Stafford, Ryan, Brees and Manning are all among the top 10 highest paid quarterbacks. Rivers, should the Kaepernick deal really be worth $126 million, would be knocked out of the top 10.

But none of their contracts extend to 2020. And there’s a chance that Rivers will have retired by that time, as Manning almost certainly will.

So fear not, 49ers fans. Kaepernick does have some mountains to climb. But this contract is not too large. In fact, it may be heralded as the most team-friendly deal in the league by the time it’s scheduled to end.


Follow @SFBay and @JLeskiwNFL on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the San Francisco 49ers.

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