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Report: Contract negotiations between Colin Kaepernick, 49ers will begin at $20 million/year

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NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Monday that Colin Kaepernick will be seeking a contract in the range of approximately $18.2 million per season when he and the San Francisco 49ers begin negotiations regarding a contract extension for the young quarterback.

The rationale is that Kaepernick is seeking a figure in the range of the deals Dallas Cowboys signal-caller Tony Romo and Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler signed in the past calendar year.

Alternatively, Rapoport speculated that Kaepernick would be willing to play out the 2014 season making his current scheduled salary of $973,766 and then making fat stacks of cash as a free agent next offseason.

Reasonable assumption and a fair assessment of the kind of money Kaepernick may be seeking, right? Not so fast, so says CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.

La Canfora actually believes that once negotiations over an extension begin, whether that occurs during this offseason or the next, the starting point will be $20 million per season, putting him in the realm of the top five or six contracts in NFL history.

Further, La Canfora believes that the 49ers are well aware of this fact and so is Kaepernick, although neither side would ever admit to that absurd number.

La Canfora agrees with his NFL Insider colleague about Kaepernick being willing to stand pat and play under the terms of his current contract and wait for a major payday down the road.

Kaepernick is perfectly willing to gamble on himself, a la Joe Flacco, and will play out his rookie contract if need be (he is signed through 2014). He won’t be doing any “bridge contracts” or “band-aid deals,” and I can tell you that an extension in the range of the Romos and Cutlers and Staffords simply is not happening.

La Canfora continues, breaking it all down with how he envisions the Kaepernick-49ers negotiations to play out in light of current trends as it relates to the elite quarterbacks and what they’re making.

So I’m going to let you in on another little secret: Kaepernick believes he is a top-five quarterback. Staunchly. Now, you and I can debate this — and likely will, later in this here column — but in the end, what I think and what you believe is irrelevant. San Francisco eventually has to get Kaepernick to agree to sign away the next five-plus years of his playing career, and that absolutely, positively will not come cheap. At a time when Aaron Rodgers is the league’s top-rated passer at $22 million a year, and an aging Peyton Manning is the fifth-highest paid at $19.2 million a season, Kaepernick feels, in his bones, to his core, that he belongs somewhere between there, and I bet sometime in the next three months he gets just that, same as Flacco and Ryan did a year ago.

So, Kaepernick, if he signs a contract extension with the 49ers, will be doing so in the range of $20 million per season, putting him among the top five or six salaries in the history of the game. Otherwise, he’ll play for his $1M in 2014 and then force the issue with the 49ers as to whether they franchise him, or sign him to what will in all likelihood be an even more massive contract come 2015 if this kid continues to develop as rapidly as he has to this point. And you can go ahead and ask the Ravens if they would have preferred to have Flacco signed at around $16.6M annually, as they could have in 2011, or Flacco at $20.1M annually, as was the case when he put pen to paper after winning the Super Bowl following the 2012 season.

Interesting theory, to be sure. And certainly a reasonable prediction of how things may go.

Still, no matter how things play out between the 49ers and Kaepernick and at what amount the two sides end up agreeing upon — if that eventuality happens (which is likely)– one thing is for certain: Irrespective of whether the prediction by La Canfora or Rapoport is closer to the mark, barring some kind of freak occurrence, Colin Kaepernick is going to get paid. A lot. Like crazy a lot.

The question is: Is he worth it? Let’s see: Two NFC Championship Games including a Super Bowl appearance between the two in just three seasons? Yeah, probably.

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