The 49ers have made it clear their goal was to get an extension for Colin Kaepernick done before the start of training camp July 23. And it looks like both the team and the quarterback's representatives have gotten the ball rolling.
According to a report Tuesday by the Sacramento Bee, Kaepernick's camp and the 49ers are re-entering negotiations after having preliminary discussions in February during the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Citing a source, the reports says the two sides will be meeting in Santa Clara this week.
Represented by XAM Sports, Kaepernick is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will likely become the 49ers' highest-paid player if a deal is struck. Because he was taken in the second round of the 2011 draft, the 49ers do not have the ability to give Kaepernick a fifth-year option like they did recently with Aldon Smith, who went in the first round of the same draft.
The market has seen a rise in salaries in recent seasons after new contracts for non-Super Bowl winning QBs Jay Cutler and Tony Romo garnered $18 million annually. Considering Kaepernick's run to the Super Bowl and conference title game in his first two seasons as a starter, his camp will push for a contract akin to Romo's and Cutler's, who get the sixth and seventh most per season among quarterbacks on average. Matt Ryan is the only quarterback in the top-five in average salary that has not won a Super Bowl.
"I really expect a real breakout year for Colin," Jim Harbaugh said last week. "Athletically, he looks bionic. If you all remember the Six Million Dollar Man, that's what it looks like to me. He's very gifted and he always has been. He has the look and feel of a guy who's really going to break out, even more so than he already has."
Negotiations had reportedly stalled after Kaepernick was named in a "suspicious incident" report filed my Miami Police April 3. The investigation remains ongoing, but both Kaepernick and the 49ers are confident the quarterback will be found innocent of any wrong doing.
"The District Attorney has the information today. At this point, I'm going to let them handle their business. I did nothing wrong in that incident. So, I want to do everything I can to let the DA close this matter," Kaepernick said.
The 49ers got some salary cap relief Sunday when Carlos Rogers' $6.6 million was officially cleared from their books after releasing him this spring. He since signed a one-year contract with the Oakland Raiders. NaVorro Bowman recently restructured his deal to give San Francisco an additional $2.6 million in cap space allowing them to sign its 12 draft picks.
That means team president and salary cap specialist Paraag Marathe has the ammunition to offer Kaepernick a backloaded deal that would give him a modest cap number for 2014. As an example, Cutler's contract paid him $10.3 million in his first season and will escalate to $21.7 million in 2020, according to overthecap.com.
Kaepernick's pending extension would be the first major domino as the 49ers look to negotiate contracts with a number of key players. Michael Crabtree and Mike Iupati are entering the final seasons of their rookie deals, while Vernon Davis and Alex Boone are reportedly looking for new contract extensions. By picking up Smith's fifth-year extension, the 49ers pushed back his pending free agency to the spring of 2016.
Once the team is able to hammer out an agreement with Kaepernick, it will have a better idea of the kind of money it could offer those other players looking for new contracts.
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