I have to admit, this is really quite convenient! ESPN’s Mike Sando put together a list of the most team-friendly contracts, and followed that up with the most player-friendly contracts. Conveniently enough, Blaine Gabbert appeared on the former list, and Colin Kaepernick appeared on the latter list. Given the chatter around Kaepernick’s contract shortly after he signed the deal, it is quite the reversal of fortune in some respects.
Here’s what Sando had to say about each of the contracts:
Gabbert appears legitimately in the mix to start for the 49ers while earning a $1.75 million base salary and $2.3 million cap charge in 2016. He can become a free agent next offseason.
Kaepernick's agents took heat for entering into a team-friendly deal, but that was when Kaepernick looked more like a rising star. The perspective has changed now that Kaepernick is earning $14.3 million in 2016 with no assurances he'll be the starter.
It really does come down to perspective when considering the value of a given contract. National media were trashing Kaepernick and his team for the contract when he first signed it. I don’t imagine they were hoping this would be the result in 2016. And really, I don’t know that I would call it “player-friendly” at this point. The 2016 season would qualify as player-friendly because it has become fully guaranteed. But the team can still release him next year with relative ease. It’s hard to really quantify Kaepernick’s contract in that regard. So it’s player-friendly for now, but potentially ends up team-friendly next year.
Gabbert on the other hand is clearly a team-friendly deal. When your potential starting quarterback has a cap hit of $2.3 million, that’s a pretty good deal. Of course, the questions around Gabbert’s long-term potential are part of the reason for that, but if it works out, it’s a good deal. And with him hitting free agency next spring, it’s going to be interesting to see how the 49ers handle his contract. If he claims the starting job and does some good work, do they get a contract extension done during the season? That would certainly make for a little bit of awkwardness if they work out an extension with Gabbert while Kaepernick is still on the team. It’s going to be some interesting decision-making in the coming months.