The above question was one often asked last week after it was announced that the 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick had agreed on a new deal that could keep him with the team through the 2020 season.
It also came with an answer that changed as the week wore on and the details of a fairly complicated deal finally emerged. NFL.com has a nice breakdown of the contract here.
Ultimately, the answer may be a resounding “not all that much.”
I talked for a while a few days ago with Joel Corry, a former NFL agent and now working in the media with CBSSports.com and the National Football Post.
Corry said the implications of the Kaepernick deal on the Seahawks’ negotiations with Russell Wilson — and remember, they can’t do a new deal with him until after the 2014 season, but then likely will make it a priority to get a new contract done quickly, ala the way the team worked this year with Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas — are two-fold.
To start, Corry said the Kaepernick deal helps set a baseline for the Wilson negotiations of $20 million, which Corry said is the best way to look at the per-year average of the deal, even if individual seasons could vary a bit from that number. That’s not a real surprise, as that figured to be the going rate anyway. But that Kaepernick got that much helps make it clear that’s where Wilson’s number begins.
“You can concretely say that in a worst-case scenario, Russell Wilson is a $20 million a year quarterback,” Corry said. “He’s got a year to improve upon that $20 million and he’d have to be Mark Sanchez this upcoming year for the floor to dramatically change. And I don’t think Russell Wilson is going to perform like Mark Sanchez did the last time we saw him with the Jets.”
The other possible impact on the Seahawks and Wilson, Corry said, is if the Seahawks were able to get Wilson to “buy off” on some of the more unique aspects of the structure of the deal. Namely, the fact that the contract is guaranteed only for injury until April 1 of each year from 2015 to 2018 and also includes some de-escalators which can lessen the value of the deal by up to $2 million a year if he doesn’t play in at least 80 percent of snaps, play in the Super Bowl or be named an All-Pro first or second teamer.
As Corry said, the 49ers have essentially created a series of yearly contracts for Kaepernick, allowing the 49ers to get out of the deal quickly if they wanted to. The de-escalators also make it more of a gamble for Kaepernick.
Corry doesn’t expect Wilson, or just about any other QB, would likely agree to such a deal.
“I don’t think too many agents take a deal with that structure,” Corry said, saying that the de-escalators “are unusual for just about any contract.”
Seattle also has little history of framing its contracts in such a manner, Corry said, in particular per-game roster bonuses, which makes up $12 million of Kaepernick’s deal.
“The Seahawks don’t really do these per-game roster bonuses,” Corry said. “Quarterbacks at the top of the market don’t have them except for Jay Cutler, who has an injury history, and Aaron Rodgers, and that’s been a Green Bay convention.”
Ultimately, Corry said a bigger impact on the deal Wilson will sign with the Seahawks will be what happens over the next year, especially with the salary cap projected to continue to increase the next few years.
“If Seattle wins another Super Bowl or makes another deep playoff run where he does a little bit more than he did this year with the offense since it’s a run-oriented offense, then he is potentially the highest-paid player in football,” Corry said. “Then he’s over the $22 million a year Aaron Rodgers has.”