With contract talks surrounding Andy Dalton already creating a lot of buzz among Cincinnati fans, potential comparisons to deals with Cutler in Chicago and now Kaepernick in San Francisco have caused quite the racket in Bengaldom.
However, the latter of the two comparisons - the parallel drawn to Colin Kaepernick's $126 extension - has many Bengal fans worried. Dalton's inconsistency makes many wonder whether their signal caller is worth the type of deal that the 49ers just inked with theirs.
As it turns out, Kaepernick's deal may not be all that it is made out to be. It's still a large deal, and technically, $60 million is guaranteed. However, the contract also represents a very small amount of risk for the 49ers, by essentially giving the team an opt-out following every season from 2014 through 2017, and part of 2018.
When you look at how the structure of the deal actually plays out, only about $13 million is actually fully guaranteed with his salary bonus, base salary, and workout bonus.
For the years mentioned earlier, the money is only guaranteed for injury. In other words, if Kaepernick doesn't consistently showcase himself as the explosive quarterback that we have seen in stretches of his short career, the 49ers have the option to drop everything following each season, with very minimal losses.
In each year from 2015 through 2020, however, there’s a catch. A big one. The total payout potentially de-escalates by $2 million per year, with up to $12 million potentially going away.
Kaepernick can halt the de-escalation by taking, in any year of the deal, 80 percent of the snaps and if: (1) the 49ers appear in the Super Bowl; or (2) Kaepernick is named a first-team or second-team All-Pro. If he satisfies the requirement in 2014, the full $12 million remains.
If he fails in 2014 but succeeds in 2015, $10 million stays. If he does it for the first time in 2016, $8 million remains. If he does it for the first time in 2017, $6 million stays — and so on until 2019, when if he satisfies the requirement that year for the first time $2 million stays in the deal for 2010.
They've also protected themselves with a few other sections of his contract, including injury protection with a disability policy and a de-escalation section in the deal.
For the Bengals fans, comparisons to what appeared to be a massive deal seemed frightening. However, it could be exactly the low-risk contract that they should be looking at signing for Dalton. That way, the team is committing to their quarterback, while also protecting themselves against inconsistency spikes, should they continue later on in his career.