If the very idea that this comparison could exist causes your Carhartt baseball cap to spin backwards (i.e. the “wrong way, especially for a quarterback of a football TEAM”), that’s exactly the point.
Colin Kaepernick indeed signed an extension that led to 49ers fans tweeting and Facebooking #Kap2020, as we reported first right here on this humble customized WordPress platform.
Details have leaked out showing the contract is nowhere near as big and Barry Zito-ish as we were led to believe initially. Kaepernick will get $13 million in guaranteed money, but this looks like a deal where he’ll have to prove his worth every single year to maximize his potential payout. As a result, there’s been a race to question Kaepernick and his choice in representation.
I didn’t get into writing about athletes throwing balls to one another and through metal cylinders to determine who the best agents are for a couple of reasons. One, I’m one of the rare people doing this who didn’t even consider earning a law degree. Two, at least we can discuss who played and coached well or poorly based on tangible evidence. I have no idea what people value behind closed doors, so I can’t judge whether or not Kaepernick’s deal is smart, moronic or in between.
The 49ers had the trump card here. They could’ve let Kaepernick play out the season for about a million dollars before taxes (in California, no less). If he was great in 2014, they could’ve franchised him. If he lost a limb during the season, that would’ve been it. No more football, no more Beats “I’m the Man, I’m the Man, I’m the Maaaaaan” commercials, no more money based on his life’s work.
Here’s where the Madison Bumgarner comparison comes in. Kaepernick’s credentials are questioned constantly, because instead of quarterback-keeping his way to a touchdown in the Super Bowl, he came a play or three short. Bumgarner’s championship credentials are right there. He won a World Series game at age 20. He won a World Series game at age 22. In those two games he gave up no runs, five hits and four walks in 15 innings.
Think quarterbacks are rare? Try fearless left-handed snot-rocketers who throw nasty slutters, pitch 200 innings every season and get better almost every single month.
Bumgarner was in a pickle, however. Don’t let the southern drawl or the fact that he headed straight to the pros out of high school trick you into thinking he’s lacking in the intelligence department. Bumgarner may be the wittiest guy on the Giants (which isn’t easy on a team with Javier Lopez, Brandon Crawford and Tim Hudson), he always knows exactly why a pitch either succeeded or failed, and he’s a master at making in-game adjustments.
He knew back in early 2012 that he was one of the best pitchers in baseball already, and he was fine with leaving millions on the table if it meant setting his family up for life.
Bumgarner’s agency, SFX, bragged after the deal was finalized that his contract provided the biggest guarantee for a pitcher with one-plus years of service time. But the Giants made out like bandits here. He could’ve become a free agent heading into 2017, but now he’ll earn $11.5 million that year — probably not even half what he would’ve made that season if he had waited. If the Giants want to keep him around in 2018 (or he pitches either 200 innings in 2017 or 400 innings in 2016-17), he’ll make $12 million that year. Then there’s another $12 million team option in 2019, when Bumgarner will be 29.
He could’ve waited to sign a contract, then cashed in with a deal that paid him in excess of $20 million per season. Instead, he was rewarded in a way that benefitted both himself (with guaranteed money in case he blew out his arm) and the Giants (who locked down a rare commodity in his prime years at ridiculously favorable terms).
No one said Bumgarner chose the wrong agent when his deal was signed, and he plays in a league with no salary cap.
Maybe people assumed Bumgarner isn’t someone who needs and desires anything beyond what will provide a comfortable life for his family. Maybe a farm with a lot of acreage and some livestock, along with a few pairs of fancy cowboy boots. On the other hand, Kaepernick is just another thug like the guys you see in those rap videos, flaunting shiny cars and jewel-encrusted goblets full of champagne that costs hundreds of dollars per bottle.
From his Wednesday afternoon press conference:
Is there anything you wanted to buy that you’ve always wanted to buy and now you will buy it with this new money? Or purchases?
“No. Not at this point. I really don’t spend too much money. I think the three most expensive things I own are my TV, my bed and my couch. I’m going to keep it that way for a while.”
Huh. Maybe he’s just young, dumb and naive, and that’s why the 49ers were able to swindle him out of the $61 million in guaranteed money we thought he’d agreed to, until the details of his contract came out.
At the end of last season, I thought you made some comments that your salary demands might be somewhat more modest than what we’re hearing that you got in order to leave space for other players on the team. Had you rethought that position?
“No. Part of the way the contract is written and the way it was negotiated was so they would be able to sign other players. That was something that my agents and the organization worked out and they felt like this was something they would be able to get other players with.
I don’t think my motivation is money driven. I think it’s driven by the success I can have on the field. Not necessarily for myself, but with my teammates. And, this just gives me all the more reason to go out and try to prove that I can live up to the expectations. I can try to help this organization win as many Super Bowls as possible.”
Seeing as a lot of these $18MM+ quarterbacks end up watching the playoffs on television, maybe Kaepernick isn’t all that dumb to sign a team-friendly deal. If he wins just one Super Bowl, he’ll increase his endorsement earnings exponentially (and he’s already doing pretty well in that department). If he maxed out his money now and the 49ers became a perennial also-ran due to their inability to pay for a complete football team, Kaepernick would be public enemy No. 1 around here.
Bumgarner and Kaepernick both signed deals providing guaranteed money earlier than if they would’ve waited. If Bumgarner was represented by Scott Boras, he would’ve let the arbitration process play out, fought for as much money as possible during those seasons, then hit the open market at the earliest opportunity. If Kaepernick had Tom Condon or Drew Rosenhaus as his agent, he may have pushed for every last dollar.
Maybe I’m the one who’s being naive … but it seems like both players wanted to put the contract b.s. behind them while ensuring they’d earn more than $500K-$1MM per season (with no injury protection), all while remaining on the team that gave them the best chance to win championships.
They don’t play the same sport. They hail from opposite sides of the country. They don’t look alike. One has tattoos and the other doesn’t. They don’t even make their money with the same arm. However, this could be a case where there are more similarities than meets the eye.