Edit: Just to clarify it, I am not advocating tagging Kap and lowballing him. This is a hypothetical tactics that determines the minimal amount of money Kap can earn, if he maintains his performance level. I.e., playing out the rookie contract in his 4th year, then forced to play under the franchise tag twice the hypothetical, hearthless, and penny-pinching Front Office forced him to accept, then get paid market value by whichever team he decides to sign with. Which more or less determines the minimum the Front Office could expect to re-sign him, but under more civilized terms of a contract extension.
Edit 2: I made a mistake in calculating the exclusive right fanchise tag (it counts the top-5 cap hit for the position, not just base salaries). I updated Kap's number accordingly.
With all the salary-cap talk I decided to revisit the long-term salary implications for extending the two most important young players on the roster - Colin Kaepernick and Aldon Smith - after the current season, until 2019. This is the earliest possible under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. This calculation assumes that both players fulfill the pretty high expectations, and will be offered top money for their position if they are let hit the free agent market.
The baseline contract worth could be established by assuming the Front Office is playing hardball with the player, trying to keep it as cheap as possible. That includes letting players play out there contract, exercising the 5th-year option for first-round players, and using the franchise tag designation liberally. This and assuming market value only after the franchise tags determines the "new money" (over existing contract) the players should expect. Add it to the 2014 cap hit to see how much is the cap hit of the new contract extension.
His 2014 cap hit is $1,630,457.
In 2015, he is given the exclusive franchise player status, at $14.293 million.Now the fun thing is, that due to the constant restructuring of top QB contracts, as the prorated signing bonus does not contribute to the tag, see at the end of the post. In 2014 the exclusive FA tag (taking into account the finished season) for QBs will be less than the non-exclusive one (the average of five years calculated in a convoluted way). Based on current QB contracts (by overthecap.com), the tag is $14,293,000 at this point. In 2016, Kap is tagged again, because why not. The tag would be the 120% of the previous year's salary, or $17,151,600. In 2017, his tag would be slightly over the $20 million, so the third tagging would be avoided. At that point, assume a 3-year contract at the apparent (today's) market price of $20 million per annum. This establishes the baseline at slightly over $91 million in "new money" for five years. Add the cap hit for the 2014 salary, and he would be paid $93 million from 2014 to 2019. Both sides will prefer to get a nice, clean contact instead. Expect that the new 6-year contract extension (adding 5 years to 2014) would be worth a total $93 million for 6 years, or $15.5 million per annum, and at least 40% of it guaranteed. Low per year figure, but Kap's current 2014 pay is negligible compared to any new contract.
Thanks to the new QB deals, the exclusive franchise tag is about the market value, so it cannot be used to keep Kap cheap on the team. Unless the team wants to use the non-exclusive franchise tag, which is a bit cheaper, but would not worth the risk. Calculating with a market price contract of $20m/year, a 5-year extension on the current contract would add $100m, making the new deal worth $101.6 million for 6 years, or $17 million a year.
Aldon's 2014 total cap hit is $4,576,727. The hardballing FO exercises the option for a 5th contract year that is available for 1st-round picks, which for Aldon, being a top-10 pick, is worth the same as the transition tag. This was $8,358,000 in 2013 for linebackers, and here the FO is going with the OLB designation. Smith's agent would insist on DE designation and a somewhat higher amount, but I let the FO win here. Also assume the tag stays around this amount in 2015. In 2016, Aldon gets the franchise designation, which would come with a straight 20% increase of previous year, to $10,029,600. In 2017, Aldon gets hit by the franchise tag for the second time ($12,035,520) as it is still cheaper than paying market price. The following two years the FO pays the market rate for top OLBs, which is $13 million per annum (Clay Matthews, Demarcus Ware).
It all adds up to a $61 million 6-year contract extension, slightly over $10 million per annum, with 30% of it guaranteed.
APPENDIX (from the CBA)
On Franchise tags:
Article 10, section 2 (a)
(i) Nonexclusive Franchise Tender. The Nonexclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position (within the categories set forth in Section 7(a) below) at which the Franchise Player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year, which average shall be calculated by: (1) summing the amounts of the Franchise Tags for players at that position for the five preceding League Years; (2) dividing the resulting amount by the sum of the Salary Caps for the five preceding League Years (using the average of the amounts of the 2009 and 2011 Salary Caps as the Salary Cap amount for the 2010 League Year); and (3) multiplying the resulting percentage by the Salary Cap for the upcoming League Year (e.g., when calculating the Tender for the 2012 League Year, dividing the aggregate sum of the Franchise Tags for players at that position for the 2007-2011 League Years by the aggregate sum of the Salary Caps for the 2007-2011 League Years and multiplying the result by the amount of the Salary Cap for the 2012 League Year) (the "Cap Percentage Average") (See Appendix E for an illustrative example); or (B) 120% of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater; if the Club extends the Tender pursuant to this Subsection (a)(i), the player shall be permitted to negotiate a Player Contract with any Club as if he were a player subject to Section 5 below, except that Draft Choice Compensation of two first round draft selections shall be made with respect to such player in the event he signs with the New Club, and the Signing Period for such player shall be determined under Section 14 below. For purposes of this Subsection, the "Franchise Tag" is the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries (e.g. , the Franchise Tag for the 2010 League Year equals the average of the five largest Salaries for the 2009 League Year for players at that position) ; or
(ii) Exclusive Franchise Tender. The Exclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of the five largest Salaries in Player Contracts for that League Year as of the end of the Restricted Free Agent Signing Period that League Year, as set forth in Article 9, Section 2(e), for players at the position (within the categories set forth in Section 7(a) below) at which he participated in the most plays during the prior League Year, or (B) the amount of the Required Tender under Subsection (a)(i) above, whichever is greater.
On 5th-year option for 1st-round draft picks:
Article 7, Section 8
(e) Fifth-Year Option for First Ten Selections in Round One.
(i) For a Drafted Rookie selected with one of the first ten overall picks in the Draft, the Paragraph 5 Salary for the player's Fifth-Year Option shall equal the Transition Tender that applies in the League Year that is the fourth year of the Rookie's Contract (as calculated pursuant to Article 10, Section 4) for players at the same position (using the categories in Article 10, Section 7(a)) at which the Rookie participated in the most plays during his third League Year. No other Salary (other than the minimum off-season workout per diem and compensation for community relations/sponsor appearances or promotional activities (subject to the maximum amounts permitted in Section 3(b)(iv) above)) is permitted for the Fifth-Year Option.