When Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick squared off in Super Bowl XLVII, Flacco threw three touchdowns with zero interceptions and was named the Most Valuable Player of the game.
Flacco got his financial reward months later when he signed a maximum-value $120.6 million contract extension that included a $29 million signing bonus and a total of $51 million guaranteed.
However, the reality is that the deals are vastly different and the original reports about Kaepernick's financial windfall are fairly misleading. Kaepernick's contract is extremely team-friendly and operates in more of a pay-as-you-go manner than the Ravens' structure for Flacco.
The Baltimore Sun obtained a full copy of Kaepernick's relatively complicated contract and analyzed how it compares to Flacco's deal, which is simple and more lucrative in terms of upfront money.
Kaepernick received a $12.328 million signing bonus on top of his $645,000 fully guaranteed 2014 base salary for a total of $13.073 million in the first year. Flacco's deal in the first year last season included the $29 million signing bonus and a $1 million guaranteed base salary for a total of $30 million in first-year compensation.
Just $12.973 million of the $61 million in guarantees was fully guaranteed at the time of signing for Kaepernick. For Kaepernick, the remaining $48.026 million in guarantees is derived from a $12.4 million 2015 base salary, a $13.9 million 2016 base salary, $16.5 million in 2017 and $5.226 million of his $17 million base salary in 2018.
Those guaranteed base salaries for injury only become fully guaranteed for skill and salary cap if Kaepernick is on the roster on April 1 of each year.
In 2019 and 2020, Kaepernick is due $18.8 million and $21 million base salaries that aren't guaranteed.
Starting in 2015, Kaepernick has annual $400,000 workout bonuses.
He can also make $125,000 per game, up to $2 million, in per-game active roster bonuses from 2015 to 2020.
Unlike Flacco's financial arrangement with the Ravens, Kaepernick's deal included a provision that would lower his per-year base salary by $2 million, starting in 2015, if he doesn't play in 80 percent of snaps during the regular season and playoffs, while also reaching the Super Bowl or being named a first- or second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press.
After Kaepernick hits those requirements in a single season, the de-escalator voids and is no longer applied to the rest of the contract.
The 2018 injury guarantee for Kaepernick will go up by the amount of de-escalation that takes place from 2015 to 2017.
Kaepernick's salary-cap figures are $3.767 million for 2014, $17.265 million for 2015, $18.765 million for 2016, $21.365 million for 2017, $21.865 million for 2018, $21.2 million for 2019 and $23.4 million for 2020. The 49ers also have a mechanism built into the deal where they can create additional salary-cap space at any time throughout the course of the deal at their discretion by converting base salaries into signing bonuses.
Flacco got a $15 million option bonus this year, and his $6 million base salary is fully guaranteed. His salary-cap figure for this year is $14.8 million.
In 2015, Flacco is due a $4 million guaranteed base salary, a $7 million option bonus and has a $14.55 million salary-cap figure.
The Ravens are expected to restructure Flacco's contract after three years following a payout of $62 million.
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That's because he has high base salaries and corresponding salary-cap figures from 2016 to 2018, including an $18 million base salary in 2016 with $3 million of that guaranteed for injury once the first option was exercised this year and voids completely once the $7 million option is paid next year. He has a $28.55 million salary-cap figure in 2018.
In 2017, Flacco has a $20.6 million base salary and a $31.15 million salary-cap figure. In 2018, Flaco has a $20 million base salary and a $24.75 million salary-cap figure.
The 49ers maintained their usual contract structure for their highest-compensated players with Kaepernick.
The deal differs greatly compared to the lack of full guarantees at signing compared to other top quarterback deals, including the Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler ($38 million), Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo ($40 million) and the Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan ($42 million).
When contract talks start for Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson, they're not expected to mirror the structure that the 49ers utilized for Kaepernick.