Analyzing the Colin Kaepernick Salary Decision

There hasn’t been much NFL news of note since the initial wave of free agency ended, but there is an interesting situation brewing between Colin Kaepernick, the Broncos, and 49ers. The 49ers gave Kaepernick permission to seek a trade but claim they still want him to be their quarterback. The Broncos have already made it known they would like to have him but at a reduced price or nearly $7 million from his current contract.  Apparently if he would agree to the reduced salary or an effective buyout from the 49ers where the 49ers pay some of his salary prior to the trade then this would be a done deal. The question is should Kaepernick agree to some kind of paycut? Continue reading Analyzing the Colin Kaepernick Salary Decision »

Looking at Anthony Davis Possible Return to the 49ers

49ers right tackle Anthony Davis retired last season, but almost immediately upon doing so left the door open for his return at a later date. Yesterday Davis tweeted out something indicating he is indeed ready to return but that dealing with the 49ers general manager has not been easy.

While Davis may not have been serious (many have pointed out already that the tweet was made on April 1) I thought it made for a good opportunity to see some of the difficulties that can occur if a retired player does decide to return to the NFL, based on my interpretation of the rules (which may not always be correct).

Continue reading Looking at Anthony Davis Possible Return to the 49ers »

Kaepernick to Seek Trade from 49ers

It’s NFL Combine time and with the Combine always comes contract news and today’s big story is that Colin Kaepernick has asked to seek a trade from the 49ers. This comes just one day after San Francisco indicated they were committed to having the quarterback on the roster this year, but also seemed to indicate that he would compete for the starting job. You can read between the lines on that and it seemed that Kaepernick’s agents did just that.  So let’s briefly look at his contract, who could be interested and what the price might be.

Continue reading Kaepernick to Seek Trade from 49ers »

Looking at Colin Kaepernick’s Contract and Possible Future with the 49ers

Over the last two seasons there has probably been no bigger disappointment in the NFL at the quarterback position than 49ers starter Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick’s team nearly won a Super Bowl in 2012 and was close to returning in 2013. Kaepernick was rewarded with a contract extension that would pay him $19 million a season with the upside potential to earn more based on performance. Since that time his efficiency has crashed and in the last two weeks his play looks like that of a rookie who has never player in the NFL before. With questions circulating about his future let’s look at his contract and the 49ers options moving forward. Continue reading Looking at Colin Kaepernick’s Contract and Possible Future with the 49ers »

NFL Salary Cap and Super Bowl Champions, Part III- Current NFL Teams

In the first part of our series we looked at the percentage of a Super Bowl Champions salary cap that was spent on the top players on their team. In part two we looked at positional spending on the Super Bowl Champions. Now we turn our focus to the 2014 NFL season and see just what teams are built like a champion and which teams are not.

Top Player Spending

Top NFL Player Spending- 2014

Six NFL teams are spending more on one player than any team that had ever won a Super Bowl in the salary cap era, which was set by the 1994 49ers at 13.1%. Those teams are the Lions, Giants, Steelers, Bears, Saints, and Rams.   All but the Lions have their cap money spent on the quarterback position, which is normal. The Lions money is spent on a defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh. Only one SB champ spent the most cap dollars on that position.

The lowest amount of spending was done by the 2000 Ravens at just 6.7%. Seven teams will be under that mark this season. Those teams are the Eagles, Jaguars, Bengals, Titans, Colts, Raiders, and the 49ers, who surprisingly have the lowest spend on a top player in the entire NFL.

The teams who fall closest to the average are the Seahawks, Cowboys, Jets, Cardinals, Redskins, and Chiefs. What is somewhat surprising is that of that group just the Cardinals have the most money spent on the QB position. The Cowboys, Jets, and Redskins have their money tied into positions that have been the top charges on a team before. The other three do not, though the Seahawks set a new mark last year when they won a Super Bowl with a tight end as their top cap position.

Top 3 Cap Spending

Top 3 NFL Player Spending- 2014

The Lions are in a different universe when it comes to top heavy spending in 2014, with 38.6% tied up in their top 3 players.  The next closest team is the Rams with 30.9%, though a big chunk of that is already on injured reserve. The top spending on the cap by a Super Bowl winner was done by the 2002 Buccaneers at 27.8%. The Lions, Rams, Steelers, Ravens, Saints, and Giants are all above that level. Our low spending champion was again the 2000 Ravens at just 17.4%. In 2014 the Jaguars, Eagles, Raiders, 49ers, and Colts are all below that figure.

Our most average teams are the Bills, Cardinals, Falcons, Vikings, Browns, and Patriots, and Dolphins. Buffalo is one of those teams with a heavy portion of their spending not actually on the roster. Two of their top three cap charges are being spent on released/traded players- Stevie Johnson and Ryan Fitzpatrick. New England also has big money tied up in a released player with Aaron Hernandez carrying the second highest cap charge on the team. The Falcons and Cardinals have the most traditional breakdown by position of this group.


Top 5 Cap Spending

Top 5 NFL Player Spending- 2014

Our two top 5 extremes remain the same in the 2002 Bucs and the 2000 Ravens. Eight teams are currently spending more than those Buccaneers. The Lions, Rams, Ravens, Steelers, Texans, Saints, Buccaneers, and Bears would all set a new high mark if they were to advance to a Super Bowl this season. The Titans, 49ers, Eagles, Jaguars, Colts, and Raiders would all set new low marks if they were to advance.

Our closest to average teams are the Chargers, Vikings, Bills, Browns, Falcons, and Patriots. Neither the Browns nor the Vikings have a QB make their top 5 in spending.

Top 10 Spending

Top 10 NFL Player Spending- 2014

The Buccaneers and Ravens were again the two extremes as champions at 56% and 44.4% respectively. We have eight teams spending above 56% of their adjusted cap on the top 10 and seven spending below. The teams above are the Rams, Steelers, Texans, Lions, Bears, Ravens, Buccaneers, and Panthers. Those below are the Eagles, Colts, 49ers, Titans, Jets, Jaguars and Raiders.

The teams that would be closest to the average range are the Giants, Cardinals, Redskins, Browns, Bengals , Bills, and Falcons.


Putting it all Together

Three teams would set a new high in every category if they were to win the Super Bowl this year. Those teams are the Rams, Steelers, and Lions. From a salary cap perspective these would be the three most unlikely teams to advance to the Super Bowl. Five teams would set new lows in every category if they won the Super Bowl. Those teams are the Eagles, Colts, 49ers, Jaguars, and Raiders.

When we look at just three categories you can add the Bears, Ravens, and Saints to the high list and the Titans to the low list. The most average teams, which hit the average mark in 3 of the 4 categories, were the Cardinals, Browns, Bills, and Falcons. Of those teams the Cardinals and Falcons would have the most normal positional breakdowns and would also likely be considered to be the only ones with the talent to make the playoffs.

If we score each category by calculating the percentage below or above the average and then sum the values together we can get a better idea as to just how far away each team is from the average Super Bowl spending habits. Breaking it down per category the average NFL team score is an 18.5% difference from the average Super Bowl winner’s cap spending breakdown.


The Lions winning the Super Bowl would really be something extraordinary. They average 52.9% per category from the average. That’s nearly 3 times greater than the average and its 19.1% more than the next closest team. It’s a method of constructing a team that has simply never been successful in the NFL and they would be the first to ever do it. The Rams, Steelers, Raiders, and Ravens make up the remainder of the top 5 and the Giants, 49ers, Colts, Bears, and Saints round out the top 10 least likely winners.

The teams with the least percentage difference are the Cardinals, Vikings, Browns, Redskins, Patriots, Cowboys, and Seahawks. These teams exhibited less than 10% difference from the average per category. The Patriots and Seahawks are certainly favorites in the NFL. The Cowboys are a team that manages the cap on a year by year basis to help manipulate numbers which has them coming in pretty normal this season.

The following table will show the percentage of cap spent on each category and the average percentage difference per category. The table should sort itself if you click on the header.

Team% Cap Spending, Top Player% Cap Spending, Top 3 Players% Cap Spending, Top 5 Players% Cap Spending, Top 10 PlayersAvg. Percent Difference Per Category




49ers Rework Ray McDonalds Contract for Salary Cap Relief


Word came out latelast week that the San Francisco 49ers reworked the contract of DE Ray McDonald for salary cap relief and today we have the details.

The 49ers reduced McDonald’s base salary to the minimum salary and converted the difference, $2.645 million, to a prorated bonus. The move creates $2,116,000 in salary cap space for the 49ers, who are carrying a large number of players on reserve lists this season.

McDonald already had one voidable contract year in his current contract and to maximize the salary cap relief they added an additional two void years to the contract. This marks the second such contract this year in which the 49ers added a significant number of void years in order to function with the salary cap in 2014. San Francisco is attempting to keep what is arguably the deepest roster in the NFL intact and is basically walking a tightrope with the cap at this stage in trying to do so.

McDonald’s dead money in 2015 is now $4.6 rather than $2.5 million and in 2016, when his contract voids, his dead money charge jumped from $746K to $2.3 million.

McDonald, literally hours after signing this deal, was arrested on domestic violence charges. If suspended 6 games for his actions the 49ers should only be able to recover 6/17ths of his bonus proration for the year rather than the full amount. The remainder of the money should be protected from forfeiture.

View Ray McDonals Contract and Salary Cap Page