The San Francisco 49ers have begun contract negotiations with Colin Kaepernick's agent, and we are starting to get comments from 49ers brass. Trent Baalke spoke on Tuesday, but kept his comments fairly close to the vest. He simply said the 49ers want to get a deal done by training camp. Given that he and Paraag Marathe are leading this negotiation, it should not be surprising they won't come out with grand statements.
On the other hand, it should surprise nobody that Jim Harbaugh was a little more robust in his comments about Colin Kaepernick's contract situation. He met with the media Wednesday morning at the NFL owners' meetings, and Matt Maiocco grabbed a few of his comments about Kap's contract situation.
At one point, someone asked Harbaugh about Blaine Gabbert earning more than Kap this year. Harbaugh made
"I think we all know what Colin's earning potential is," Harbaugh said Wednesday. "We all pretty much know what the numbers are."
Maiocco pointed to Baalke's comments about getting a deal done before camp, and Harbaugh said:
"We all look at it that way. He deserves that. That's what he deserves. That's what the market pays for that job. Nobody attacks it more than he does. Nobody wants to be great like he does."
Harbaugh is not one to shy away from praising his players, and calling for 49ers brass to "pay the man". We've seen it plenty of times over the years. The more important comments might have come from owner Jed York. He spoke with the media on Tuesday, and Tim Kawakami put together a transcript. York was asked about the Kap negotiations. He spoke about how he does not get involved in negotiations, and "do[es]n't get involved in the sort of the end-of-the-line deals." However, he did say the entire organization was on board with making this happen:
We'd like to get something done with Colin. So when I look at Colin, I like what he's done, I like the growth that he's shown, I like the maturity that he's showing, I think he's become much more of a leader.
You look at the last three games that we played, we don't beat Green Bay without Colin. I don't think we beat Carolina without Colin. I think he played really well for a lot of the game in Seattle.
He drove us down and he was a few inches away from taking us to the Super Bowl.
You know, I think there's a lot that he's done that put him in that position where he should be paid like one of the top quarterbacks in the league, whether we get it done now or later. We hope we get it done soon. If we don't, I don't think it's going to be acrimonious.
While Harbaugh and York paint a picture of a quarterback who probably deserves to be paid among the top quarterbacks in the league, York stop short of saying, we're going to back up the Brink's Truck and unload whatever he wants. His comments are a serious vote of confidence for Kap, but the structure of what most ofus hope is an eventual contract extension will be interesting to consider.
If the two sides get a deal done this offseason, there will be plenty of guaranteed money in the form of a sizable signing bonus. However, if the deal gets done by training camp, I have a hunch the deal includes various escalators, and other incentives. As Jed York pointed out, Kap has shown growth in a variety of ways. He has incredible potential, but that also means he has plenty of room for growth. I would hope he and his agents recognize this, as I think that needs to be factored into any contract.
I think Kap can reach that potential, but I also don't think you pay up for what he might reach. You pay for what he has shown already, with the ability to pay based on where it could go. It makes for a more complicated negotiation. I have faith in Paraag Marathe, Trent Baalke and company, but it doesn't make this any easier to negotiate. If and when a deal does get done, the analysis on the breakdown of the deal will occupy quite a bit of our time here.
This will likely be the first "monster deal" for rookies under the new CBA. Cam Newton will eventually get his, but the Panthers can buy themselves time with the 5th year option. Of course, the 49ers can buy time with a franchise tag in 2015 and potentially 2016, so that is another wrinkle to this negotiation. My gut says they get a deal done by training camp, but my gut is not always reliable!