Colin Kaepernick was already plenty popular among the 49ers fan base. And, now, his altruistic contract might earn him even more affection.
Kaepernick signed a contract extension Wednesday through the 2020 season that is essentially a pay-as-you-go deal. He approved a deal negotiated by his agent, Scott Smith, and president Paraag Marathe that pays him just $13.073 million in guaranteed money.
Prior to last season, the Baltimore Ravens paid Joe Flacco a signing bonus of $29 million, and Matthew Stafford received $27.5 million up front as part of an extension from the Detroit Lions. There is little question that Kaepernick could have received a lot more fully guaranteed money from the 49ers. And, obviously, a strong argument can be made that his agent should have insisted upon it.
But sources told CSNBayArea.com that Kaepernick wanted it this way. Kaepernick, who recorded one of the top Wonderlic intelligence scores of all NFL starting quarterbacks, knew the exact details and ramifications of his contract.
And while the agent community is panning the performance of his representation in accepting this kind of team-friendly deal, Kaepernick made good on his promises.
A source with knowledge of Kaepernick’s mindset said the 49ers quarterback wanted his deal to be “flexible so that (the 49ers) could sign other guys.” Kaepernick's contract does not exhaust the 49ers' salary this season and figures to be manageable in future years, too.
Kaepernick will never see all of the $126 million that was initially reported. In fact, money from his contract begins to vanish if the 49ers do not regularly appear in the Super Bowl or he is not named a first-team or second-team All-Pro.
Kaepernick alluded to his team goals during his press conference on Wednesday when asked what he envisions himself accomplishing over the life of the seven-year contract.
“Trying to win as many Super Bowls as I can,” he said. “I think that’s your goal as a player is to try to win the Super Bowl every year that you’re playing. Granted, that’s not necessarily realistic to win it every single year. But, that’s what your goal is.”
Later, Kaepernick spoke words that can only be taken at face value when considering the structure of his contract, in which the 49ers can escape after just about any year with minimal salary-cap damage.
“I don’t think my motivation is money driven,” he said. “I think it’s driven by the success I can have on the field. Not necessarily for myself, but with my teammates. And, this just gives me all the more reason to go out and try to prove that I can live up to the expectations. I can try to help this organization win as many Super Bowls as possible.”
He did more than just say those words. He signed a contract that proved it.