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After leading the San Francisco 49ers to consecutive NFC championship games and one Super Bowl, Colin Kaepernick was rewarded with a “record” seven-year, $126 million contract in 2014.
But after three seasons of declining production, including one season of headlines surrounding his protest of the national anthem, we got to see that the contract was not nearly as big as everybody made it out to be at the time.
In the end, Kaepernick received $39.4 million from the deal, or about 31% of the total most people touted.
The contract gave Kaepernick a $12.3 million signing bonus and a 2014 salary of just $645,000. Those were the only truly guaranteed portions of the contract, despite reports that Kaepernick’s deal included a record $61 million in “guaranteed” money. It turned out the $61 million was only guaranteed if he were to suffer a career-ending injury.
Each year of the contract after the first, the 49ers were free to cut Kaepernick and not owe him any more money.
To make matters worse, Kaepernick was supposed to get his first large salary ($12.4 million) during the 2015 season. However, because of the way the contract was worded, that salary actually went down to $10.4 million. Kaepernick’s salary went down $2 million each year if he was not named first- or second-team All-Pro, or if the 49ers didn’t play in the Super Bowl the previous season with 80% of the snaps taken by Kaepernick. None of those things happened.
Kaepernick eventually restructured his contract during the 2016 season, turning the 2017 season into a player option. Knowing that the 49ers were going to release him later in the summer, Kaepernick opted out of his contract in early March hoping to take advantage of becoming a free agent earlier and having more time to secure a new contract.
In the end, Kaepernick’s seven-year, $126 million contract turned out to be a three-year deal worth a tad more than $39 million. That is less than the three-year, $45 million contract Mike Glennon signed with the Chicago Bears this past offseason.
Meanwhile, six months later, the 2017 season is underway and Kaepernick is still without a job and he is without a big chunk of the $61 million “guarantee.”
This post has been updated from its original version.