Colin Kaepernick signed the revised contract that lets the 49ers breathe easier in case of an injury and allows the quarterback to exit the organization at season’s end.
The new deal eliminates the hefty injury guarantee that would have paid Kaepernick $14.5 million next season – and possibly bound him to the team for another year – if he were seriously injured in his upcoming starts. Kaepernick, meanwhile, has the option of ripping up the remainder of the deal after this season and testing the free-agency market in March. Furthermore, his game-by-game roster bonus for this season, worth $2 million total, becomes guaranteed.
The deal was negotiated not by Kaepernick’s current agents but by a third party, Jeff Nalley of Select Sports Group, according to multiple sources. The sources would not go on record because they do not have the authority to speak on the matter.
Kaepernick’s previous contract was signed in 2014 and went through the 2020 season. The restructured deal is for two years, although Kaepernick could opt out of the second year.
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According to ESPN, Kaepernick’s 2017 salary would be $14.5 million but is no longer guaranteed. That means the 49ers could cut ties with him at any point before the regular season with few salary-cap ramifications. Under the previous contract, cutting him after April 1 would have brought a $19.4 million cap hit.
Kaepernick stands to earn at least $14.3 million this season. The new deal also includes an injury insurance policy and playing-time bonuses, which at this point have not been revealed.
News of the revised contract comes one day after 49ers coach Chip Kelly named Kaepernick the starting quarterback over Blaine Gabbert for Sunday’s game in Buffalo. It will be his first start since a Nov. 1 loss to the St. Louis Rams.
Kelly insisted Tuesday his quarterback decisions this year have not been influenced by the team’s front office, which has been pushing for a revised contract for Kaepernick since the offseason. Kelly has noted on several occasions he made Kaepernick the No. 2 quarterback for the first five weeks – meaning Kaepernick would have taken over if Gabbert were hurt or otherwise had to leave the game – and that he put Kaepernick on the field at the end of the 49ers’ Week 1 win against Los Angeles.
“It’s got nothing to do with his contract,” Kelly said of Kaepernick’s promotion to the starting role.
Kaepernick’s first start will come on the road where, as was the case in the preseason finale in San Diego, he is sure to be showered with boos because of his refusal to stand for the national anthem. The quarterback is protesting how African Americans and other minorities are treated in this country, especially by police forces.
“Well, I think there’s going to be a lot of people rooting for me as well,” Kaepernick said on a conference call with Bills reporters Wednesday. “I think a lot of people are rooting against me because of what my stance is, what I believe in and the people and injustice I’m fighting for. You know, it’s sad that they don’t feel the empathy or compassion that other people should have the same rights, same justices and be treated the same way as them.”
Bills coach Rex Ryan agreed that Kaepernick would get a rough reception from Buffalo fans – but no rougher than any of his teammates.
“They clearly support our football team,” he said of Bills fans. “And anybody wearing a 49ers uniform, they’re gonna boo.”