A spectrum of contract negotiations

Ezra Shaw

I try to make some general statements about contract negotiations in light of some very specific problems the 49ers have faced this offseason.

Every time a Niner, especially one who is a bigger name and close to the end of his current contract, pops up negatively in the news I always wonder how it will affect his future contract negotiations. I imagine most of us do the same; given the fact that these questions have been surfacing in relation to both Colin Kaepernick and Aldon Smith, I am certain of it.

And, I don't think I have the expertise with contract negotiations to guess how the current situations will affect the negotiations of both players. Moreover, we have been talking about this enough that I think such guesses would be a bit redundant. Finally, we can't really make effective guesses until all the details come to light.

But what both of these situations do is help us set up a spectrum of contraction negotiation ramifications. I'll also, for the sake of completing the narrative of our crappy offseason, throw the Chris Culliver debacle into the mix. If we were to place all three players onto a spectrum of how much their situations could affect future contract negotiations, I think it would look something like this: Kap's situation < Culliver's situation < Aldon's situation. This set up, it seems to me, is a bit obvious. Clearly all three situations are in flux - but, considering the fact that Kap is not facing charges, Culliver is, and Aldon's facing about as many charges as Leonidas faced Persians, I think it's safe to structure the spectrum as such.

Two questions immediately come to my mind: at what point does the complexity of any give situation eclipse the benefits of talent and on-field success? And, how might the situations of each given player affect how each contract is structured? Let's take up each question in turn.

In regards to the first question, I've got to imagine that this spectrum does re-enforce how important on-field success and talent is. Will Kap's situation affect how much money he makes during his next contract? I highly doubt it. I think the effect would be negligible, if anything. Moreover, I don't think Culliver's situation, barring an increase in difficulty, like him facing serious jail time because of his charges, will affect his future contract negotiations in an overt way. If he doesn't receive as big of a contract as he wants in the future, I've got to imagine that it's because the team doesn't value his talent as highly as he does. This isolated incident likely goes away from a financial standpoint. No, it takes something monumental, like what's happening with Aldon, to have an effect on the monetary number. I do think Aldon will likely lose an incredible amount of money relative to his talent level because of his off-field actions.

The second question is a bit more nebulous, however. This is where I think Culliver's actions could have strong consequences. The front office might agree to pay Culliver as much per year as they would have before the brass knucklings, but I imagine that they will be able to make the structure of the contract more "team-friendly," such that if Culliver should ever get himself into this type of trouble again (or worse), then the 49ers would be able to get out of it more easily. Something similar, and more than likely more strict, would happen with Aldon, should he remain on the team. But, with Kaepernick? Well, this problem might not even be in the room during the time of the calls.

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