Before he was named the San Francisco 49es’ starter quarterback, Colin Kaepernick agreed to restructure his deal.
It was a somewhat controversial move at the time because the new contract stripped away any injury guarantees of his previous agreement with the team.
That means, if he gets hurt, he’s on his own. No more multi-million dollar safety net.
But getting rid of that was apparently fine for the quarterback, as long as he was able to become a free agent after the conclusion of the season — should he choose to decline his option.
He was asked by a reporter on Tuesday why he valued having that choice.
“It was something that we thought was mutually beneficial while doing the contract,” Kaepernick said.
That’s an interesting way of putting the decision. After all, before he agreed to the deal, some wondered if the Niners moving to null the contract extension he signed in 2014 would lead to a grievance from the NFL Players Association.
Forgoing a favorable contract isn’t something you could talk many people into. But we don’t know the extent of the discord in Santa Clara that could lead someone to such a conclusion.
But Kap had undoubtedly earned that contract with his early play under the last man to lead the Niners to relative greatness, Jim Harbaugh.
That’s what made his answer to the question about why he started great and has struggled later, the opposite trajectory for most NFL quarterbacks, so interesting.
“There’s a lot of different factors that can play into that,” Kaepernick said Tuesday. “Whether it’s injuries, coaching changes, there’s a lot of different things that can affect that and it’s something that we have to be able to build upon as a team to make sure that we’re going out, we’re performing well and doing everything we can to get wins.”
Most professional athletes are underpaid until they can get a team to overpay for what they’ve done in the past. (For example, San Francisco Giants starter Madison Bumgarner was paid less than $10 million in 2016 while most pitchers of his caliber made north of $25 million annually. His next contract will likely correct for that even though players’ respective values only depreciate with time.)
It speaks volumes that Kaepernick would give that security back, especially considering it won’t be easy securing another contract. The NFL doesn’t care too much for activists, after all.